The Dallas Cowboys still list Damien Wilson as third string at SAM linebacker on their depth chart. But Wilson now is playing the position in the team’s base defense.
After playing only 10 defensive snaps in the first five games, Wilson played 16 snaps against the Green Bay Packers and 18 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We’ve given him an opportunity to be that starting SAM in our base defense, and I think he’s getting better and better,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s got a lot of physical ability. He plays with the right kind of demeanor, the right kind of physicalness. You see him minimizing his mistakes the more and more he plays, and you see him making more plays. So he’s a good guy to try to develop. He’s taken advantage of his opportunity.”
Wilson, a fourth-round pick in 2015, had a successful off-season when he caught a paintball in the right eye two weeks before training camp opened. He lost vision in his eye for two days and missed two weeks of training camp.
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“I had a good little off-season,” Wilson said. “The eye injury it really threw me back. It threw me back a little bit. I missed training camp with that injury. While everybody else was working, I was pretty much watching.
“But I think I rebounded from it pretty good.”
Wilson had seven tackles last season, including two for a loss, and a quarterback pressure. All of those came against the Saints when Sean Lee went out with a concussion. He was third on the team in special teams tackles with nine.
Garrett said Wilson has improved from last season.
“He had a really good spring,” Garrett said. “He came back and did some really good things right at the outset of our off-season program. Then, when he came back from training camp he was out for a little while with that eye injury. So that put him really behind the other guys. He was a special teams player for the early part of the season. But again, he’s made a lot of strides from year 1 to year 2 and you see that in the last couple of weeks.”