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NFL Network reporter Jane Slater attempted to “put her hand in the dirt” at Dallas Cowboys training camp over the weekend.
One of the most common criticism of NFL media members is that they “never put their hand in the dirt.” As if playing in an NFL game is a prerequisite to watching and then opining on what happens out there.
Plus, and I’m not going to name names, I’ve heard plenty of former NFL players who have no business commenting, do so, even though they played.
So Slater lined up against a tackling dummy at Dallas Cowboys Training camp and went full-effort into laying it out.
Take a look, and then we can break down the tape.
So, a few things. For someone who never “put her hand in the dirt,” the form isn’t too bad. The three-point stance is solid and she appears to be well balanced.
Anyone who’s played football at any level is familiar with a coach pushing you while you’re in your stance to see if you fall over. No one did that here, so we need that for next time.
But, when she points to the dummy with her left hand, she looks relatively stable. Not bad.
Next comes the tackle. She first makes the mistake that most people make: instead of driving out of the stance, she lifts up as soon as the “ball” is “snapped.”
A good defensive line coach would tell her to fire forward out of the stance and stay low.
Still, she gets decent drive off of the back foot. Again, there’s work to do but not horrible.
NFL Network reporter Jane Slater shows some decent skills, but there’s still work to be done
The biggest issue with her form is the actual tackle. She leaps at the dummy rather than driving her shoulder through it.
It’s “hit, then wrap.” But she tries to do both at the same time. You can see her lunge towards the dummy, which makes the tackle much easier to break.
Of course, the dummy doesn’t have the same elusiveness as an NFL ball carrier, so she completes the tackle.
But, thanks to that misstep, she ends up sliding off of the dummy and lands hard on the ground.
“I think I got concussed,” she said.
Yes, because you have to drive THROUGH the dummy. Use your weight to your advantage. That’s part of completing the tackle.
By sliding off to the side, she’s opened herself up to a broken tackle.
Still, props to her for going for it.
No one can say she’s never “put her hand in the dirt” again.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak