After missing the Dallas Cowboys’ first four games this season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, DeMarcus Lawrence had some big plans for his debut Sunday afternoon.
But Lawrence’s best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition.
“I wanted to get some sacks, that’s what I planned,” the third-year defensive end said. “I’ve been dreaming about that for five weeks.
“That’s why I said it didn’t go as I planned. But they’re going to come.”
Lawrence might not have accumulated any sacks during the Cowboys’ 28-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. But he had an influence on the team’s season-high four sacks as they chased Bengals quarterback and former TCU standout Andy Dalton all around AT&T Stadium.
“DeMarcus had a great impact,” defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said. “He’s our elite pass rusher, along with the rest of us.
“But he brings a lot to the table because teams have to focus on DeMarcus. They know he’s out there and he’s an impact player on our defense, so it’s great to have him back.”
Lawrence is the Cowboys’ most accomplished pass rusher. He had seven sacks in the final eight games last season, and the front line plays with a different fervor when he’s on the field.
“DeMarcus came in the room and his expectations were very high,” said defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, who had one sack Sunday. “He let them know, ‘Look, I’m back this week, we’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback,’ and that’s what we did.
“He motivated us all week long to get pressure on the quarterback and that’s what we did all game.”
Lawrence said he was eager to return.
“It was hard just watching it on TV and coming in on Monday and Tuesday and telling everybody they did a good job,” Lawrence said. “I needed to be there.
“It was hard, but I’m glad it’s over.”
So too, is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team racked up its highest sack total since picking up five sacks against New England in the fifth game last season.
“You’d have to say he made a difference because we have a lot of respect for Cincinnati and we have a lot of respect for their offensive line,” Jones said. “So he did make a difference.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne agreed.
“Any time we’ve got DeMarcus on the field with us he’s going to make an impact,” Claiborne said. “Whether someone is double-teaming him or you leave him by himself, he’s going to get to the quarterback.”
“But he’s just getting back, and getting back used to playing football at game speed. I know as the year goes on he’s going to be better and better for us.”
That’s the plan, according to Lawrence.
“I just came out just trying to do my job and staying focused,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t want to get overly excited or nothing.’’
Now about those sacks.
“They’re going to come,’’ Lawrence said. “And when they come, they’ll come in bunches.
“I’ll just keep rushing and waiting on my time.”