The big news on Tuesday is that newly signed safety Malik Hooker was officially in Oxnard to join the Dallas Cowboys at training camp. The team initially showed interest in the former 2017 first-round pick earlier in the year, but didn't sign him. Hooker is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and it's possible the Cowboys were waiting to hear some positive news in terms of his recovery before committing to him. Needless to say, Hooker is wearing the star now.
While the team has a player who may ultimately end up being their starting free safety, he wasn't the only defensive back making news on Tuesday. Here are three players who might have something to saw about how this Cowboys roster shapes out.
A fifth-round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, Kazee saw action right away. He played in all 16 games as rookie, seeing snaps at safety in more than half of them. By his second season, he had earned the starting safety job for Dan Quinn's defense. He had a huge year that season, picking off seven passes and batting down 10 more. He also racked up 82 tackles as he proved himself to be a solid piece to the Falcons secondary. Kazee finished his third season playing in all 48 games of his NFL career before going down to a season-ending Achilles injury on Monday Night Football in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers last year.
Kazee signed a one-year, $1.27 milion deal with the Cowboys back in March. While he has already shown he can be a viable coverage safety in this league, the real question for Kazee is how will he fare coming back from that pesky Achilles injury? He doesn't have an injury-plagued past, so there shouldn't be any reason to be concerned about him having durability issues. It will just come down to how well he's recovered and will it affect his on-the-field performance. But I must say, he's looking pretty decent so far.
Joseph started his college career at LSU where he played six games as a true freshman. He transferred to Kentucky the following season, but was forced to sit a year as a result of NCAA transfer rules, missing all of 2019. Last season, and his only season with the Wildcats, Joseph performed extremely well. Starting nine games, he recorded four interceptions, including one that went for a touchdown. It was good enough for the Cowboys to make him their second-round draft selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There is a lot to love about Joseph as he exhibits great athletic ability. He's very fluid in his movement and can change direction effectively as well as possessing nice make up speed. He's also still got a lot to learn due to his limited college experience. Initially, the thinking has been that veteran Anthony Brown will start as the team's other outside corner opposite Trevon Diggs until Joseph is ready. But that day might come sooner versus later if the rookie continues to make plays like this in camp.
The 27-year corner is entering his fifth season in the NFL. It would be his six had it not been for him opting out of the 2020 season (COVD-19). A sixth-round draft pick in 2016 by the Baltimore Ravens, Canady only played in four games, solely on special teams, before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Things weren't much better his second season as he started the year on injured reserve with a knee injury missing half the season. When he returned, he saw a lot of action at cornerback. Canady then spent another half a season on injured reserve (thigh), before being relegated back to a role on special teams. Strangely, his best season came in 2019 where he initially didn't make the Ravens roster to start the season. He was signed to their practice squad only to be promoted to the active roster a couple weeks later. He played in four games at corner with Baltimore before eventually being released, and then claimed by the New York Jets the next day. Canady finished off the season playing seven games at cornerback for the Jets.
For some, people view Canady as an afterthought. The cornerback group is loaded with a lot of young players who you know the coaching staff will want to give every opportunity to prove themselves as long term answers. But for now, it could be the veteran who is more ready to be called into action. If he can just have some better luck in the health department, there might be something there, especially if he keeps making plays like this...
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