IRVING, Texas – Last Monday and Tuesday, Anthony Hitchens had to take final exams in sociology, earth science and sports promotion at the University of Iowa.
The first two days of the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie minicamp have been a more difficult test.
“It’s just starting out, so of course it’s supposed to be,” the fourth-round draft pick said.
Hitchens moved to inside linebacker after playing on the weak side at Iowa, where he led the Hawkeyes in tackles his last two seasons. He now has to call the defenses, call the checks and communicate with the entire group.
“It’s a different mentality,” Hitchens said. “I haven’t done it since high school, so it’s different. I’ve got to get adjusted to it. I don’t talk much so it’s bringing better out of me. I get better by talking about it more.”
Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said he was drawn to Hitchens’ movement skills and hitting ability.
“We’ll see exactly where he fits,” Eberflus said. “Right now we’ve got him at the Mike. He could end up at [strongside] or he could end up at [weakside].”
The backup to Sean Lee was an issue all last season.
“The problem was we played four of them,” Eberflus said.
Lee suffered hamstring and neck injuries and missed five games. Justin Durant suffered a hamstring injury filling in for Lee and missed the final two games. Ernie Sims started two games at middle linebacker, but he was hurt. Rookie DeVonte Holloman started the final two games.
The hope is that Hitchens can fill the spot behind Lee.
“Time will tell,” Eberflus said. “As you look at it you always want to make sure you’ve got guys in the right position in what they do for the team.”