Cowboys pass rusher Dorance Armstrong looks for even bigger year after breakthrough season, new contract

After a breakout year and signing a new contract, Cowboys pass rusher Dorance Armstrong is looking to take the next step in his career.

STAFFORD, Texas — Chasing down elusive Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for a sack, shedding blocks with rapid-fire hand movement, and stuffing running backs, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Dorance Armstrong engineered a breakout season.

Collaborating with standout Micah Parsons, Armstrong, 25, harassed quarterbacks relentlessly last year. He finished with a career-high five sacks, 22 pressures, 12 quarterback hits, one defensive touchdown, 37 tackles, and three tackles for loss.

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Armstrong: ‘Dream come true’

The Cowboys rewarded the former fourth-round draft pick from Kansas in March with a two-year, $13 million contract that included $6 million guaranteed with a $4.5 million signing bonus.

“That’s a dream come true, baby,” Armstrong said. “It felt so good to sign that. I was sweating in that office to sign, I was so happy.”

Working alongside longtime trainer Marvin Hollie of Get Rite Training, Armstrong took time out of his summer to train high school linemen and tutor them on how to win in the trenches.

“I didn’t think it would feel like this, but it feels good to give these kids the game,” Armstrong said. “These kids want to be in my shoes one day.”

Perhaps they will through his example of hard work and perseverance.

Armstrong, a former Houston high school football standout at North Shore High School who was an All-Big 12 selection at Kansas, has been dedicated to his craft.

Always putting in the work

“Man, Dorance put in a lot of work last offseason,” Hollie said. “We really keyed in on his handwork. We took a lot of his false steps out. Dorance was already an amazing athlete, but removing his false steps that made him quicker off of the ball. That’s why his sacks were so high this year. It made it difficult for offensive linemen to put their hands on him.”

In 59 career games and eight starts, Armstrong has 98 tackles, 7 1/2 sacks and 20 quarterback hits.

He continues to work diligently to improve.

“As a defensive end, the work never changes,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been working with Marvin for three years and we continue to work, work, work. He’s close to me. He watches the games and sees where I struggle. He jots that down and points those things out to me.

“It’s a great feeling to see the work you put execute it and watch it on film. That’s the best part. That’s the exciting part about it.”

Armstrong gets the job done with a variety of moves.

“I’m a speed rusher and I have power,” he said. “Speed and power is how you win most of the time these days.”

Armstrong finished third on the Cowboys defense in sacks behind Parsons and Randy Gregory who signed with the Denver Broncos.

Playing with Parsons creates more opportunities for Armstrong.

“No doubt,” Armstrong said. “We’re all in our second year in the defense and we understand each other a lot better. We see Micah do something to a guy and we say, ‘I want to do the same thing.’ He made it look easy.”

The Cowboys suffered a crushing playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Now, they’re working to get back to the postseason.

“That one hurt for real,” Armstrong said. “I’m excited for the year and I’m ready to go into it.”

Aaron Wilson is the NFL Insider for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL.

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