Cowboys Move Awuzie to IR, Add Two New CBs for Seahawks Game

Saivion Smith

Getty Saivion Smith

The Dallas Cowboys picked a bad time to have a bad time.

Just hours before their Week 3 road showdown with the high-flying Seattle Seahawks, the Cowboys moved a second starting cornerback to injured reserve: Chidobe Awuzie, sidelined by a hamstring ailment.

In corresponding roster moves, Dallas promoted practice-squad CBs Saivion Smith and Deante Burton, as well as offensive tackle Eric Smith, to the 53-man squad, the team announced Saturday.

Awuzie was hurt amid a fourth-quarter punt-block attempt in last Sunday’s comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He’s expected to miss multiple weeks, according to head coach Mike McCarthy.

Awuzie, playing in a contract year, is responsible for the Cowboys’ lone interception thus far. He’s added three tackles and two pass breakups across 127 defensive snaps (85.81%). The team’s Byron Jones-less secondary ranks 23rd against the pass, surrendering 268 yards per game.

With Awuzie sidelined, the Cowboys will lean on their collection of healthy corners: Jourdan Lewis, Trevon Diggs, Daryl Worley, and CJ Goodwin. Diggs, held out of Wednesday’s practice due to a shoulder injury, will play in Seattle.

The club also plans to involve veteran defensive back Brandon Carr — primarily stationed at safety — along the boundary for additional reinforcement.

Awuzie will be eligible to return after a minimum of three games. CB Anthony Brown (ribs), shipped to IR on Sept. 19, is slated for re-entry in Week 5.

The ailing Cowboys now have seven players on the injured list, including six starters: Awuzie, Brown, linebackers Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone) and Sean Lee (groin), tight end Blake Jarwin (ACL; out for year), and tackles La’el Collins (hip) and Cameron Erving (knee).

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Background on Smith, Burton

Smith began his collegiate career at LSU and, following a JUCO stint, transferred to Alabama. He started 12 games for the Crimson Tide in 2018, notching a team-high three interceptions, five pass breakups, and a defensive touchdown, afterward opting to forego his senior campaign and enter the NFL draft.

Smith, who went undrafted in 2019 and joined Dallas this past April, was likened to current Cowboys CB Daryl Worley and former Redskins star Josh Norman during the pre-draft process.

“He’s athletic enough for man coverage, but his collection of strengths and weaknesses requires better technique and aggression from press to gain control of the rep,” Lance Zierlein wrote. “Smith’s ceiling is NFL starter and his floor should be fourth cornerback.”

A 2017 undrafted free agent, the well-traveled Burton played for four NFL teams before the Cowboys called last November, plucking him off the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad. (Ironically, he arrived after Brown was lost to a triceps injury.)

Burton converted from wide receiver, his college position, to cornerback in 2018, when he inked a reserve/futures deal with Atlanta, who released him that September. Long (6-foot-2) and fairly lean (200 pounds), he compiled 84 catches for 1,085 yards and five touchdowns at Kansas State from 2013-16.

Unless their promotions are permanent, Smith and Burton will revert back to the practice squad on Monday, per league rules.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL