IRVING, Texas – Of the 10 defensive linemen the Dallas Cowboys have on their 53-man roster, six joined the team after training camp started.
Jason Vega joined the team Aug. 21 and spent the first six weeks on the practice squad. The Cowboys traded for Caesar Rayford on Sept. 3. They signed Drake Nevis on Sept. 24. They added Jarius Wynn last week. Marvin Austin was brought on board on Monday.
This does not include guys they signed after camp and have since cut, like Landon Cohen (signed July 24, cut Sept. 17), David Carter (signed Sept. 17, cut Oct. 15) and Edgar Jones (acquired Aug. 31, placed on short-term injured reserve Oct. 18).
Finding players is not easy. As Bill Parcells said, you just can’t go to Texaco and find one. Yet the Cowboys have had great success the last few years in finding guys off the street to perform. Two years ago it was wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Last year it was linebacker Ernie Sims. Hayden was signed in January after he did not play in 2012 and has 25 tackles and 10 quarterback pressures.
“The first thing you're looking for is the best player available,” coach Jason Garrett said.
The personnel conversations are constant.
“You talk about these guys, you watch them,” Garrett said. “A lot of times you have history with the player, whether it’s direct history or you’ve spent a lot of time with him prior to the draft. You try to get all of those thoughts and impressions out there. You watch the tape and see where he is right now and what his role might be coming into our football team and how he’ll be able to help us.”
Garrett wants the “right kind of guy.” The player needs to fit the system. And the Cowboys also prefer that they were at least in training camp with another team or playing earlier in the season to be in some semblance of conditioning.
Nevis and Wynn were with the San Diego Chargers earlier in the year. Austin was with the Miami.
Nevis and Wynn played in just their first week with the team after three practices. Austin will likely do the same Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
“You certainly have to learn scheme and technique and all of those things,” Garrett said. “The one thing I would say, defensive linemen are typically used to being rotational players. The idea that they have to come in and play 65 plays in a game, like maybe an offensive linemen would, you’re more used to have those guys sub in and out. That’s been their mentality. That’s always been their mentality.”