Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys looking to keep hot Aaron Rodgers in the pocket

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is more dangerous inside the pocket than he is outside the pocket.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is more dangerous inside the pocket than he is outside the pocket. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The No. 1 way the Dallas Cowboys plan to control the Green Bay Packers and hot quarterback Aaron Rodgers is to limit his time on the field with a ball-control offense

But once Rodgers gets the ball, the defense will have to do its own dirty work.

For the Cowboys, the focus will be to keep Rodgers in the pocket and not let him get on the edge to make big plays down the field.

That was the key to the team’s success in the 30-16 victory against the Packers earlier this season.

They notched only one sack, but stayed in their rush lanes, kept him in the pocket and played good pass coverage.

Rodgers completed 21 of 42 passes for 294 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His longest plays were 25 and 22 yards.

"The guy is an animal in there," defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said. "But I feel like if we can keep him in the pocket, we'll be able to get him down. Our coverage will hold up long enough where we can get him down."

Of course that is easier said than done against the current Rodgers, who is playing out of his mind right now. Rodgers has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions while leading the Packers on a seven-game winning streak.

Rodgers is at his best when he breaks containment to extend plays, putting more pressure on the secondary to cover.

“It just means we have to cover longer,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “We have to stay on our guys longer until the whistle blows. We’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys up front, though, to get around the ball, just like we did in the last game, and make them uncomfortable back there.:

Said Crawford, “The guy makes crazy plays no matter what. I don't know how he does some of the things he does passing that ball. We just have to keep our lanes and make sure we don't lose [containment] to make sure he doesn't get out of the pocket."

The Cowboys will have their full complement of defenders for Sunday’s game. Claiborne will be back after missing the nine games with a groin injury.

Defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford and defensive tackles Cedric Thornton and Terrell McClain will all be back after missing the final few games of the regular season to nurse injuries.

“It’s great,” Claiborne said of getting players back healthy. “I feel like it’s going to make us that much stronger going into this game. It’s going to be a good one.”

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