Marinelli eager to see D-linemen compete

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys need to fix their defensive line, and this offseason has seen a gaggle of players come through Valley Ranch, from free agents such as Henry Melton and Jeremy Mincey to drafted players such as second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence and seventh-rounder Ben Gardner.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said the more players he has to work with, the better.

“Oh yeah, competition is high,” Marinelli said. “I think we got a lot of pieces that nobody really knows about, but let’s go see these pieces compete. It’s a great opportunity for all these men. I want them to come in and just compete. I always talk about three dogs, one bone, go after it. They know what I want. I just like them. I’m not saying expectations here. I just like how they take the field every day and work. That’s the biggest part of this position, is willing to work. If you can develop 8-9 guys that you’re comfortable with, now you become a unit. Not a star, but a unit.”

On Thursday, the Cowboys signed defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, a 2007 first-round pick (Texans) who spent two seasons with Marinelli in Chicago.

Okoye won’t be ready to participate in football activities until possibly training camp due to health issues.

But he’s not the only player returning from something.

Defensive end Anthony Spencer said he hopes to return from microfracture surgery toward the end of training camp.

Marinelli is working with his current group of healthy players, while others might not be ready until later in the summer.

“I think it’s a process,” Marinelli said of Okoye. “Just kind of wait and see, health and all those things. See how he comes back off of that. It’s somebody definitely you like the chance to work with. He’s young. He’s 26 years old. Seems like he’s been in the league 20 years, right? It seems like he’s been playing forever. But he’s a young guy. I’ve had him. I know what he’s about. But now it’s climbing back.”