Taco Charlton had a slow start to training camp and has already heard critics when he didn’t register a pressure or tackle in 16 snaps of his professional debut last week at the Hall of Fame game.
That prompted Charlton to brush off any negative talk of his game this week in practice.
“I’m 22 years old,” Charlton said. “My life is great, so I don’t care about them.”
Well, Charlton shouldn’t hear many critics this time around with a more impressive game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
Charlton stopped Rams running back Todd Gurley for a 1-yard gain on the first play after Lance Lenoir coughed up the ball on a punt return. Later in the first quarter, Charlton sacked Rams quarterback Sean Mannion for a 10-yard loss that put the Rams on their own 1-yard-line.
“It felt good to finally get one and start down a road to many more, I hope,” Charlton said.
That’s the type of flash plays the Cowboys were hoping to see from Charlton, and he delivered. He’ll have to build on that now.
“He’s got really good length. He’s long. He’s athletic,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said earlier this week. “Very athletic. Now it’s just putting it all together each and every down.”
Charlton seems to get better with time. He more than doubled his sack production his senior year at Michigan from his first three seasons combined.
Charlton had 10 sacks as a senior, including six sacks the final five games, compared to nine sacks combined in his first three years.
Along with Charlton, the defensive line created more pressure early on. Lewis Neal, an undrafted lineman out of LSU, tackled Gurley for a 3-yard loss on the Rams’ second offensive play.
That’s a positive sign for a team that has been desperate for D-line pressure in recent years.
“We are around the ball a lot on defense, and we knocked it out about four or five times,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We finally got that turnover down in the red zone. We have to do a better job taking advantage of some of those plays when we make them.”