IRVING, Texas – Wade Phillips’ concern about playing Keith Brooking in the nickel and dime packages is that the 13-year veteran could wear down if he’s plays too many snaps.
Brooking begs to differ.
“I feel like I’m in better shape than anybody on this team,” Brooking said with a big grin after finishing an intense conditioning session that involved jumping rope and sprinting on a treadmill with a resistance belt around his waist. “What am I going to tell you, I’m going to give out in the fourth quarter? No way, I’m not going to say that.”
But Brooking, proud as he is, is also a realist. He understands that there aren’t many dudes in NFL history who have played every down during a season in which they turn 35. He gets why his head coach worries that he might wear down if he plays in every defensive package.
“I think there’s some truth to that. There’s some inaccuracies to that,” Brooking said. “It probably falls somewhere in the middle.
“I feel that I can contribute and help this team on third downs. I feel confident in Coach Phillips and the other coaches. They’re going to put me in a position to help our football team win. If they feel like I need a break, it’s tough for me to swallow, it’s tough for me to take. But I’ll do it, as long as we’ve got people out there being productive.”
Therein lies the question: Can any of the other nickel linebacker candidates (Jason Williams, Sean Lee, Leon Williams, Mike Hamlin and Danny McCray) be productive enough to make the coaches comfortable giving Brooking a breather?
The coaches can’t just count on Brooking to let them know when he needs a break. He’ll keep his mouth shut.