Marinelli to Carter: 'It's a man's game'

IRVING, Texas -- Conventional wisdom was dead wrong about Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter last season.

The speedy Carter, who showed flashes of brilliance in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 in 2012, didn’t end up being a perfect fit as the Will linebacker in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme. He definitely didn’t remind anybody of Derrick Brooks, either. Instead, Carter got benched in Week 4 and was part of the problem for the NFL’s worst defense.

Carter has admitted his confidence took a hit last season. That’s apparently not Rod Marinelli’s problem.

“I don’t do confidence stuff,” said Marinelli, who was promoted to defensive coordinator this offseason. “Get down and play. Get down and play. Here’s your assignment key. We want you to play fast and we want you to take the ball away.”

Carter didn’t come up with any turnovers last season. Not one interception, forced fumble or fumble recovery. That might explain why the Cowboys were ready to draft Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier in the first round to replace Carter before the Pittsburgh Steelers beat them one pick before the Cowboys went on the clock.

If that bothered Carter, so be it. He's not going to get a pep talk from Marinelli.

“Go play,” Marinelli said. “It’s a man’s game, man. Play it the right way. That’s what I want. We’re going to coach it. We’ll coach you hard. Be where you’re supposed to be. This is what we expect. And then go.”

Marinelli made it clear he doesn’t coach confidence. Does he coach mental toughness?

“I just coach football,” Marinelli said. “And I think there’s a lot of toughness in football coached the right way.”