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Cowboys’ Jayron Kearse ready for ‘showdown’ vs. Giants’ Darren Waller

Kearse has faced Waller just once, in 2019, when he played free safety for the Vikings.

FRISCO — One of the Giants’ big offseason moves was a spring trade with the Raiders to acquire tight end Darren Waller.

The Dallas Cowboys will get to see Waller for the first time in 2023 in the season-opener Sunday night. For Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse, this is one of the biggest matchups he’ll have this season.

“He’s one of the top two tight ends in the game,” Kearse said after Monday’s practice. “He can run, he can move after the catch. He poses a threat to whoever is going against him. I faced him before and I got some familiarity with his game and he does of me too. It’s going to be a showdown on Sunday night.”


Kearse has faced Waller just once, in 2019, when he played free safety for the Vikings. Kearse participated in just 12 defensive snaps that game against Waller. And what a game for Waller. He caught 13 passes for 134 yards with no touchdowns and one drop in a 34-14 loss.


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At that time, it was a career game for Waller in terms of catches and yards. He’s tied his single-game career-high in catches but he’s since had games where he’s caught passes for 150 and 200 yards. It’s no wonder the Raiders signed him to a three-year $51 million deal that made him the highest-paid player at his position. Those financial numbers have since been surpassed, yet, Waller continues to be a major threat in the passing game.


One of Kearse’s assignments in the Cowboys’ defense is to handle tight ends and Waller the first man on that list.

“He’s extremely tough,” Kearse said of Waller, who has two catches for 33 yards in two career games against the Cowboys. “He can run well for the tight end position, one of the fastest tight ends in the game. You can see it when you’re watching him play. He gets in and out of his breaks quick, he’s fluid in his breaks, that’s the threat he poses. You don’t go up against a lot of tight ends with 4.4 speed, a big guy, 6-5, 240 [who] can run well. Being a converted receiver, you could tell he definitely has some wheels on him and you got to get hands on him.”

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