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Russell Maryland latest former Cowboy to lend helping hand

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jason Garrett likes to call on the Dallas Cowboys of the past to help the Cowboys of the present.

There seems to be a theme with the defensive line. In the offseason, Tony Casillas, Chad Hennings and Hall of Famer Randy White spoke to the group. In training camp, Charles Haley has been on the field before heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Russell Maryland has been a fixture at camp as well.

“One of the things we try to do is provide the right examples to our players,” Garrett said. “We try to be the right example as coaches. That’s part of our job -- to show them by how we live and how we coach and how we approach our job that this is the way to do it. But any time you can reinforce that message with other people who are really credible, we want to take advantage of that. No one better than Russell Maryland.”

Maryland was the first overall pick in the 1991 draft by the Cowboys. He won three Super Bowls before signing with the Oakland Raiders. He ended his career in 2000 with the Green Bay Packers.

He spent the past two seasons in the player engagement department with the Cleveland Browns. For as long ago as his playing days were, Maryland doesn’t see a difference in defenses.

“You have little nuances to [Marinelli’s] defense but whether it’s Rod Marinelli’s defense, Dave Wannstedt’s defense, Butch Davis’ defense, it’s basically the same concept -- it’s getting up the field making something bad happen for the offense and then running to the ball and finishing off plays. T’s the basic concept, just 25 years later.”

Despite his draft status, Maryland was not a star, rather an important piece to the Cowboys’ defenses in the 1990s. He has worked with defensive tackles Nick Hayden and Ken Bishop mostly about leverage getting up the field even from the nose tackle spot.

“Maybe he wasn’t the most gifted but he had a great motor,” Hayden said. “That’s one of the things [Marinelli] showed us. He could get off blocks easily and make plays.”

Maryland hopes to be around for the rest of camp after going to the Hall of Fame to support Haley.

“It gives me pleasure to see if I can give some guy some points or some points on how to be better in the game,” Maryland said. “Then to see that guy come out here on this field and do those things I said that he should do, it’s self-gratifying.”

With all of the different messengers, the messages do not conflict with what Marinelli wants.

“I think everybody understands what their role is,” Garrett said. “We talk to our assistants about that. Rod Marinelli welcomes it. Rod Marinelli loves having Charles Haley around. He loves having Russell Maryland around. Whenever a new guy comes in, he always features the guy and talks about his career and has that guy talk. We’re fortunate to have Randy White this offseason. We had Tony Casillas, Chad Hennings and some of the other guys. Our coaches are ball guys. They followed our football team. They followed these guys’ careers. They have admiration for them. And they want to take full advantage of the opportunity to get better as coaches and certainly to help our players get better.”