Cowboys rookie linebacker Holloman keeps making plays, reducing mistakes

08/20/2013 8:12 PM

08/21/2013 7:33 AM

Rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman might not be doing everything right, but he does have one thing down.

He gets himself around the ball.

Twice, that has helped him get an interception in the preseason.

That is giving the Dallas Cowboys patience, and him confidence, as he tries to reduce the mistakes he believes he is making daily.

“I see my mistakes every day. So I know what I’m doing wrong,” he said. “I see the little things I need to do better.”

Holloman dived to his right for an interception near the goal line against Arizona last weekend. Two games earlier, against Miami, he plucked a ball out of the air and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.

But only the latest interception was in the scheme of the defense. His pick-six in the Hall of Fame Game happened after he said he had lined up wrong and was scrambling to recover when the ball bounced away from the receiver and came to him.

“At first, it hit me hard,” he said of the transition to NFL speed. “It’s starting to slow down a little bit. I’m not thinking as much. I’m learning the defense better. Now I know the tempo. I had to pick my tempo up a little bit more.”

Holloman is a sixth-round pick, and the Cowboys don’t have a huge investment in him. But his athleticism is tantalizing, and he demonstrates it in plays like the interceptions — a diving play and an agile return.

It can help him make up for mistakes. Not that coach Jason Garrett sees that as desirable.

“Well, that’s a bad recipe,” Garrett said. “That’s a bad recipe for young players and any kind of player and certainly for your team. He needs to clean up the mistakes that he makes. No one is so good that they can make mistakes; that they’re that good an athlete. So that’s just not how we’re going to approach it.

“He’s made some plays. There’s no question about that, and we have to recognize that. But at the same time, he has to clean up his technique and assignments and his overall play, and that’s not unexpected for a young guy like that.”

Not unexpected at all for Justin Durant, the seven-year veteran starting at strong linebacker.

“The adjustment is going to be hard for them,” Durant said. “My adjustment was very hard. Some things are complicated. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Some of it is, you make adjustments based off what you see. Some of us older guys are catching up on it a little bit faster because we’ve been playing, and we have an idea what they’re trying to do in the league, certain setups, certain motions and what they’re trying to get to at the end of the day. It’s a little bit easier for us.

“But you know, man, he’s around the ball all the time. He’s making a lot of plays. I commend everything he’s doing and his work ethic.”

Durant said Holloman’s interception against Arizona was a result of being prepared and being a good athlete.

“He did his job, and then he’s got good instincts,” Durant said. “He came, and he felt it. The quarterback had to slide over and throw it, and he made the play. Took advantage of the opportunity. It definitely was within the defense.”

Holloman said it started with lining up right.

“It makes your job 10 times easier,” he said. “So this game, I made it easier on myself, and it showed.”

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