Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton just laughed when a reporter brought up a missed penalty late in the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-15 victory over the Minnesota Vikings last Thursday.
Thornton clearly hit Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford in the helmet on what could have been a game-tying 2-point conversion, but it went uncalled. Thornton hasn’t heard from the NFL regarding a potential fine for the play, either.
Instead, Thornton is ready to move past that controversy.
“Man, we’re playing the Giants this week,” Thornton said.
That play against the Vikings, though, is the biggest impact Thornton has made all season. The Cowboys signed him to a five-year, $17 million deal, but he has been passed on the depth chart at nose tackle by rookie Maliek Collins.
Thornton has averaged about 19 snaps the past five games, and has played 30 or more snaps only twice. The coaches have credited Thornton with 15 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and eight quarterback pressures this season.
But Thornton is getting more and more acclimated to Rod Marinelli’s Tampa 2 scheme and feels good about his ability to make an impact down the stretch.
“I’m more comfortable because I have been around my guys longer,” Thornton said. “Our relationship has developed. More comfortable on the field, knowing my techniques, knowing my assignments, getting better there.”
The Cowboys’ pass rush finally flashed some life against the Vikings, registering three sacks a week after getting shutout against the Washington Redskins. Dallas has 23 sacks, tied for 22nd in the league.
Defensive end David Irving said the pass rush is coming “slowly, but surely.”
“We’re just coming to work, we do pass rush drills every day,” said Irving, who has a team-high 16 QB pressures. “I feel like it’s coming along and hopefully we’ll improve each week.”