Brought to you by: psuinthenfl.com
This is what Linebacker U dreams are made of. After spending his first 4 seasons as a Carolina Panther, Dan Connor has signed with the Dallas Cowboys. As most of you already know, this will place Connor in the same linebacking corps as rising star Sean Lee.
Connor, who is Penn State’s all-time leading tackler with 419 tackles, was an unrestricted free agent this offseason after the Panthers decided not to retain him. He appeared in 15 games and started 11 of those for Carolina in 2011 after Jon Beason was placed on IR after opening weekend. He was able to amass 75 tackles and 1 forced fumble in his 2011 campaign. His new contract is reportedly a 2-year-deal, with financial terms yet to be disclosed.
The 26-year-old linebacker has been plagued by injuries throughout his NFL career. He missed all but 3 games of his rookie season with a serious knee injury, and in 2010 he was only able to appear in 8 games because of a hip injury. His career average is 10.5 games played per season, so I supposed it could be worse.
With the Cowboys, there’s a good chance he’ll play a similar role to the one he played in Carolina. He won’t necessarily be thrust into a starting role, but he’ll provide depth at a position where rotations are common. So just because he won’t start, doesn’t mean he won’t see substantial playing time. The Cowboys current linebacking group consists of Lee, DeMarcus Ware, and Anthony Spencer, all of whom started last year. They also have last year’s second-round draft pick Bruce Carter. The contracts of veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking expired this offseason, so either Connor and Carter will battle for James’ starting inside linebacker spot, or the Cowboys could switch to a 4-3 defense with Ware, Lee, and Spencer. Either way, there will be a lot of Connor-Lee tag team action throughout the season.
The pair sported the blue and white together at Penn State for three seasons, from 2005 to 2007. Lee will be entering his third season in the NFL, while Connor will be going into his fifth.
For more great articles, check out PSU in the NFL.