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Malik Hooker expected to make Cowboys’ debut in Week 2 vs. Chargers, ready to serve as ‘ballhawk’ in secondary

The information heading into Week 2 is not all unhealthy for the Dallas Cowboys, as troublesome as that could be to fathom proper now. In any case, they’re presently enduring waves of unlucky information headlined by the suspension of starting right tackle La’el Collins, a multi-week injury to both Michael Gallup (calf) and All-Pro pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence (foot), and questions on if Randy Gregory will clear the COVID-19 protocol in time to take the sphere in opposition to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Nonetheless, former first-round decide Malik Hooker may give them one thing to smile about.

Not solely are the Cowboys welcoming again perennial All-Professional proper guard Zack Martin from the reserve/COVID-19 record, however Hooker, who signed on late in coaching camp, is anticipated to make his debut for Dallas in Week 2, sources inform CBS Sports activities and information workforce govt Stephen Jones spoke about earlier this week. This could put one other defensive playmaker on the sphere after shedding not less than one, holding the diploma of issue for quarterback Justin Herbert extra stage than it in any other case would’ve been if Hooker wasn’t on the roster.

“I believe we’ll see Hooker in a uniform this week — greater than probably,” Jones mentioned 105.3 The FAN on Monday.

All issues thought-about, will probably be a stunner if he is not.

Hooker is seeking to return to common season motion from a torn Achilles that ended his 2020 season and his time with the Indianapolis Colts. He proceeded to work out with the Cowboys in March however failed safe a deal — largely as a result of the membership needed to see extra progress in his restoration earlier than committing to him. They’d go on to signal safeties Jayron Kearse and Damontae Kazee as a substitute however circled again to seize Hooker in coaching camp and signed him to a one-year deal. Having taken snaps to conclude the preseason, Hooker is 100% wholesome and able to make an influence. In his first three seasons in Indianapolis, he reeled in seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 33 begins. 

He expects extra of the identical in 2021.

“[The Cowboys are getting] a game-changer and an athletic ballhawk,” Hooker advised media in late July. “That is what I have been since I got here out [of Ohio State]. … Additionally, vocally I am a pacesetter. That is the principle factor: having the ability to get guys lined up and simply ensuring all people is on one web page.”

The Cowboys made Hooker inactive in Week 1 for a mix of causes, from a numbers sport on particular groups to the very fact Kazee has established himself because the starter reverse Donovan Wilson. However with Wilson now nursing a groin damage that is held him out of shape this week — he hasn’t been dominated out as of but, nevertheless — and the Cowboys being anxious to see what Hooker can do, there’s an important probability they deem him lastly ramped up and able to make the journey to LA.

“I really feel good proper now,” Hooker defined in July. ” … Bodily, I really feel nice. No setbacks so far as the place I am at within the strategy of restoration and issues have been going good. So now it is simply taking my time and dealing again into enjoying soccer once more. You determine I have been out a 12 months, in order that they’re taking their time with me and dealing me again into the method slowly and absolutely.”

That’s exactly the plan for head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the latter seeking to significantly enhance a putrid unit in Yr 1 of his multi-year deal. Hooker hasn’t taken a sport rep since Week 2 of final season, and the Cowboys are easing him into the combo in deliberate style. Noting the toughest a part of his restoration was “gaining the power again” in his decrease leg, Hooker truly struck up a friendship with Kazee in March — the 2 having the ability to each empathize and share recommendations on tips on how to get again to prime type prior to later.

“I met him on the go to [in the spring],” mentioned Hooker of Kazee. “I sort of knew him a bit bit earlier than. Clearly, what he did a few years in the past, and stuff like that. Him being an important participant as nicely. 

“After which on the go to — we clicked on the go to. We chopped it up. Each going by way of the identical damage. Even nonetheless to this present day, that is most likely one of many guys I talked to probably the most.”

At minimal, Hooker and Kazee will proceed battling for the beginning function at free security because the 12 months rolls alongside, and that is one thing the Cowboys are all in for. Regardless of having had a run-in with the damage bug on a number of events already in his in any other case promising NFL profession, Hooker is targeted on what occurs subsequent. 

“I actually do not acquired nothing to show,” he mentioned. “For me proper now, it is nearly getting on the market and having enjoyable and enjoying the sport. Anyone that watched me play, any time I performed and I used to be wholesome, I made an influence on the video games I performed. For me, it ain’t about what I acquired to show.

“It is about me staying obtainable and keep wholesome at this level.”

That is saying a mouthful for the previous consensus All-American — who now joins Ezekiel Elliott and Noah Brown as notable Buckeyes on the Cowboys’ roster who additionally hung out collectively at Ohio State. Hooker underwent surgical procedure on two separate events (torn labrum in his hip and sports activities hernia); suffered a groin damage to begin coaching camp with the Colts as a rookie in 2017 earlier than ending his first 12 months as a professional on injured reserve because of a torn ACL and MCL; missed time in 2018 with a hip and a foot damage; after which missed three video games in 2019 with a torn meniscus in his knee that required surgical procedure to restore. 

And, as famous, he’d go on to overlook all however two video games in 2020 with the torn Achilles. It has been one unhealthy break after one other for Hooker, who’s in any other case probably the greatest security prospects the NFL has seen in a very long time.

“It was irritating for me at first, however now it comes with the sport,” mentioned Hooker. “Each soccer participant that performs the sport, performs it on this system, particularly, they get one thing again whether or not it is a torn labrum regardless of the case could also be. For me, it is probably not irritating now; it is nearly trusting it and trusting the method for me. Staying assured realizing, believing in my skills and what I can do. 

“I really feel like that was an enormous a part of me getting again as quick as I did, feeling how I do now could be simply believing as a participant in my skills that the presents that God gave me.”

These presents are plentiful, as evidenced by the 25-year-old having seven profession interceptions regardless of his sturdiness points. And he feels there is not any higher place to get again to work than with Quinn and the Cowboys in a scheme he feels significantly suited to excel in.

“The fellows right here — I really feel like an important system,” he mentioned of his choice to decide on Dallas over six or seven different groups that confirmed curiosity this offseason. “A variety of followers, nice gamers, gamers keen to be coaches for me, instructing me how the system works, performs and stuff like that. Simply the system — it is just like what system I used to be in earlier than. 

“I really feel like that is the proper place for me for my choice. It just about got here out to they felt it was the identical factor, or vice versa, and so it simply got here to a simple choice for me. I felt like that is the place residence was at.”

If Hooker can keep wholesome and produce just like the Cowboys noticed him do for the Colts, he’ll have an opportunity to stay round awhile. His first check might be to make issues troublesome for Herbert in a matchup that may most positively be one to look at on Sunday.

Excited for the brand new Cowboys season? We’re too! Observe alongside on the CBS Sports app and get the most recent insights from Patrik Walker, who’s on the bottom in Dallas. Plus, get the most recent Dak Prescott information, Ezekiel Elliott predictions, and far more from our workforce of specialists. If you have already got the app, you might want to set the Cowboys as your favourite workforce for up-to-the-second information and evaluation.

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/information/malik-hooker-expected-to-make-cowboys-debut-in-week-2-vs-chargers-ready-to-serve-as-ballhawk-in-secondary/ | Malik Hooker anticipated to make Cowboys’ debut in Week 2 vs. Chargers, able to function ‘ballhawk’ in secondary

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