Lewis Neal will suit up for his first career NFL game on Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Atlanta Falcons, reports the Dallas Morning News.
The 6'0" rookie out of LSU is up to 280 pounds after entering his senior season at 264, but he's not concerned.
"I'm strong though," Neal said Wednesday after practice. "I broke the power-cleaning record at LSU."
It's true: Neal, then 264 pounds, power-cleaned 391 pounds in July 2016.
He also recorded 108 tackles (15 for loss), 11.5 sacks, seven pass deflections and a forced fumble his last two seasons in Baton Rouge.
Just two months later, Neal is now preparing for his first NFL game. His agent broke the news Monday that the Cowboys had activated him afterthat required surgery.
His first thoughts?
"It's hard to remember," Neal said. "I was just too excited."
Per the Morning News, Neal will sub in as needed in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's line rotation. He anticipates most his play at the three-technique under tackle given his size but said as a sub, his assignment will depend on who's coming out. The rotation may give him time at nose tackle or defensive end. He prefers three-tech.
"The three-tech is the motor of the defense," Neal said. "So if three-tech is going well, the defense will do well."
Head coach Jason Garrett said Neal has earned the spot, from his strong training-camp performance to his productive stint on the practice squad.
"Whenever we've asked him to do something, he seems to show up," Garrett said. "He's a smaller guy, but he's strong. He plays with good quickness and explosiveness and plays with good leverage, so he'll be part of that mix inside."