How Good Are The Cowboys Linebackers Without Ellis?

Derek MajorCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

IRVING, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Shaun Hill #13 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Greg Ellis #98 of the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on November 23, 2008 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

On Tuesday Greg Ellis' 11-year run with the Dallas Cowboys ended as the Cowboys cut Ellis instead of continuing to find a trade partner for him. Greg Ellis was drafted inmthe first round of the 1998 Draft, which was a controversial pick as everyone thought the Cowboys were going to take Randy Moss who went to Minnesota.

Greg Ellis had a great eleven years with Dallas, racking up 496 tackles and 77 sacks, which is eighth on the Cowboys all-time list. Ellis had eight sacks last season and is still a good linebacker, he just no long fit into the Cowboys plans.

Last season Ellis was mostly used on second and long and third downs where he could use his pass rushing skills. Ellis couldn't cover anyone as an Outside Linebacker, and he also wasn't happy having to stand up off the line.

So the question is now how good is the Cowboys defense without Ellis?  

Anthony Spencer takes the place of Ellis as the starting Outside Linebacker. Last season Spencer played in 12 games collecting 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks, those numbers should increase as not only will he get a lot more snaps this season but he'll also be playing across from DeMarcus Ware, who had 20 sacks last season. 

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Spencer has played well in his two seasons in Dallas, but needs to be consistent this year and stay healthy. He hasn't exactly earned this job and I have a feeling if he doesn't perform well you could see Carpenter on the outside instead of Spencer.

With Bradie James still calling the assignments and free agent signee Keith Brooking next to James the starters seem just fine.

Behind them is Bobby Carpenter, who has played every linebacker position since he's been in Dallas but hasn't find the field consistently except as a special-teamer.

Carpenter is in his fourth year with the Cowboys and needs to have a great camp to let the Cowboys coaches know that he's ready to play with the defense, instead of just running down kickoffs. Carpenter could be a versatile backup linebacker who could go in for any of the four starters and play right away and be the lead linebacker in the Nickel and Dime packages. 

Ellis was a great asset to the team, but the Cowboys linebackers will do just fine without him. After all he was only playing passing downs. The core unit for the Cowboys was a success last season and will be this season as well with Wade Phillips calling the plays.

Where Ellis land could hurt the Cowboys however, the Giants are always signing defensive linemen and the Redskins could use a pass rush period, even with Albert Haynesworth there now.