Coming back for his first game since breaking his thumb against Denver in Week Four, Sensabaugh was faced with the tall task of matching up with Atlanta’s future Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez.
Sensabaugh didn’t flinch.
After giving up a 17-yard reception early to Gonzalez in the first quarter, Sensabaugh put the clamps on him the rest of the game. Gonzalez was limited to just four catches for 37-yards on the afternoon, and was effectively shutout of any impactful plays on the game.
Sensabaugh should be commended.
He brings an air of confidence and competence to the position the Cowboys haven’t seen since the days of Darren Woodson.
Interesting enough, both players share similar size (about 6-foot-1, 215 lbs) and skill sets.
Like Woodson, Sensabaugh has seen time during his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars and lined-up covering the slot receiver.
The Cowboys haven’t saddled him with those duties yet, but he’s shown he’s more than capable of handling some of the league’s better tight ends (Kellen Winslow, Kevin Boss, Tony Gonzalez).
That ability allows the Cowboys to get additional coverage men like Orlando Scandrick or Alan Ball on a wide receiver during certain schemes, maximizing their turnover opportunities during obvious passing downs.
Woody and Sensabaugh also share a love of delivering bone-crushing hits. Sensabaugh brings a physical presence to the secondary that the Cowboys have sorely been lacking since the early years of Roy Williams.
On a crucial third down play late in the game, Matt Ryan delivered a quick slant to receiver Eric Weems who was racing up the middle of the field toward the first down marker. Sensabaugh came crashing in for a textbook tackle which stopped Weems dead in his tracks, like a dog yanked back by a chain staked to the ground.
Fans should pay attention to the vigor he applies when tackling a ball carrier. In fact, Ken Hamlin would do well to pay attention to him.
Sensabaugh’s versatility makes Hamlin potentially expendable at the end of the season. The Cowboys coaching staff are said to be high on rookie fifth-rounder, Mike Hamlin, and may be keen on incorporating him into the defense as the season goes on.
Ironically, Sensabaugh finds himself in a similar situation that Ken Hamlin was in two seasons ago. Like Hamlin, Sensabaugh is effectively playing on a one-year “show me” contract. Clouding the situation is the looming collective bargaining agreement on the horizon.
Esoteric collective bargaining talk and salary cap ramifications aside, all Sensabaugh needs to do is continue balling out.
The rest will fall in place.