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‘Adding Armor’: Cowboys LB Vander Esch Has a ‘Lucky’ Plan

Vander Esch has a plan ‘to make sure,’ he says, ‘that I do give myself the best chance possible to stay healthy.’

FRISCO - Given the fact that Leighton Vander Esch has experienced injury-related “bad luck” - his phrasing - since his Pro Bowl season as a rookie in 2018. Sadly things haven’t gone, what exactly is it that the Dallas Cowboys linebacker do to alter his misfortune?

Body armor.

“I’ve been training and working out hard,” Vander Esch said during the Cowboys’ recent minicamp here inside The Star in Frisco, “and trying to put some more body armor on my frame.”


“To make sure,” he said, “that I do give myself the best chance possible to stay healthy.”

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Sometimes when a player talks like this, as Vander Esch has of being “on a mission,” the impression is left that maybe he wasn’t doing enough previously.

There isn’t much danger of a work-ethic issue with Vander Esch. And the “body armor” remark clarifies his physical goals.

When Vander Esch arrived here at an NFL Draft first-round pick, the size of his neck was an easily noticeable trait. It was indicative of weight-room devotion.

But neck and back issues have plagued him. So, does he need to add weight to his frame? Was he somehow lacking strength before? Did he fall short in the conditioning department?

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But can he change his body, maybe just slightly, to help endure the weekly series of car wrecks that is the NFL?

That’s the idea.

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“I feel great,” Vander Esch said. “Best shape I feel that I’ve been in. I was here all offseason training, lifting, running and doing all of that, just trying to get better and put myself in position to be successful this year.”

What’s he trying to overcome?

“Just a bad string of luck for a little bit,” he said.

How’s he trying to do it?

“Body armor,” he said.