OXNARD, Calif. – With the arrival of Micah Parsons last year, the Dallas Cowboys got formally introduced to a concept that has drawn the affection of Cowboys management – "Juice."
Parsons brought a skill that far exceeded his projections. What he also brought was an energy and aggression that was contagious.
As it spread throughout the defense, the front office and coaches watched as a team weakness developed a level of respect while moving to the middle of the pack in the league.
With that in mind, word is the staff wanted to replicate and expand the juice on the team in hopes the defense could progress further into a Super Bowl level defense. But juice can't come from just anyone no matter how much they have.
Former Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph was thought to be someone who might bring that same energy and edge contributed by Parsons. However, the staff learned quickly that Joesph couldn't be trusted and became wary of him as a leader of energy on the team.
Those gut instincts proved true as Joseph found himself riding in a car with two other men while shots were fired from the vehicle, killing Cameron Ray in mid-March.
With that in mind, the Cowboys front office went into April looking for the right kind of juice to mix in alongside Parsons.
That quest fulfilled itself by way of fifth round draft pick John Ridgeway of Arkansas. Just months earlier, the monstrous defensive lineman ran down owner Jerry Jones after a Razorback game to let Jones know he was going to draft Ridgeway so he could take over.
Now he's in camp looking to run through anyone he can to further prove himself a prophet.
There are men you want to go to war with and then there's Ridgeway – a mountain of a man who not only shows no fear, he relishes combat. He's the kind of guy who looks across the way at offenses with the look of a kid in a toy store with a massive gift card.
There are tails to be kicked, he can't wait to kick them, and he'd love it if you would join him in the gleeful kicking of so many tails.
Of course, that's the PG version. We're a family publication after all.
His violent, yet professional demeanor, an approach that has generated discussions of a future career in WWE alongside fellow Razorback Dalton Wagner, brings just the type of juice the Cowboys front office hoped.
Nicknamed the "Vanilla Gorilla," Ridgeway set the tone right away both verbally and physically.
"I'm going to try to break someone's neck when I get out there," Ridgeway told "The Draft Show" after his selection.
Then, during OTAs, he got into a fight with offensive lineman Josh Ball and had to be sent to the showers to cool off. The former amateur wrestling champion may have flung a helmet or two during the incident and should probably avoid getting sent away from practice early going forward, but the message was sent.
Don't mess with Ridgeway or pull any of that rookie hazing mess because he will knock your head off. Of course, that means when another team lines up across the way, his teammates know that no-nonsense violence and energy is used in their favor.
Word out of camp is that Ridgway has already begun to develop a certain level of trust. If he can honor that trust against the Denver Broncos on Saturday, Aug. 13, he may be well on his way to helping build a defense with enough juice to overcome an NFC championship game that dates back to when Dallas and Arkansas fans who feel really old were in junior high.
If he can't and proves to just be a hot head instead, he may find himself relegated to a WWE NXT ring faster than he'd like.
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