Proving Ground: Jason Hatcher

Third in a 10-part series focusing on young non-starters who have a lot to prove during training camp (series):

As a five-year veteran, Jason Hatcher has reached the point of his career where he can’t be considered a developmental player much longer.

Good thing folks at Valley Ranch believe this could be the breakout campaign for the 2006 third-round pick.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Hatcher has been a contributor throughout his career. He ranked fifth on the team in 2009 with 27 quarterback pressures despite not being fully recovered from offseason knee surgery until midway through the season.

But Hatcher has potential to do much more. He has the size and athleticism to be a three-down defensive end in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

Hatcher, who will play this season for the second-round tender of $1.759 million, could push Marcus Spears for a starting job. He’s competing with Stephen Bowen for a spot as an interior pass rusher in the substitution packages, but Phillips said Hatcher could also be used as an edge rusher on occasion.

Hatcher has shown flashes in the last four seasons. This could be the year he flourishes.