Hatcher meeting Marinelli's high standards

PHILADELPHIA -- Jason Hatcher is the most prolific pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL at this point in the season, leading the Dallas Cowboys and all players at his position with six sacks.

How is this happening for an eight-year veteran who entered the season with 16 career sacks and never had more than 4.5 in a season?

Hatcher, who has three sacks during the Cowboys’ two-game winning streak, credits defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli’s tutelage. Marinelli sees a man who is pushing to maximize his potential.

“I just think he has gone 100 miles an hour every day,” Marinelli said of Hatcher after Sunday’s 17-3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. “Got talent and the system really fits him well, that under-tackle position. And he has embraced it. There’s a lot of pressure in that position. Our standards are really high, and he’s playing at a high level.

“You never put ceilings on men. I always have the ability to take a ceiling off and see how far a man will grow, and he’s growing.”

The 6-foot-6, 299-pound Hatcher, who is having a career year in his contract year at the age of 31, has certainly caught the attention of opposing offensive coordinators. He was frequently double-teamed even before defensive end DeMarcus Ware strained his quadriceps, an injury that caused Ware to miss a game for the first time in his nine-year career. At this point, Hatcher is the primary focus of pass-protection schemes against the Cowboys.

“Oh, a lot more,” Marinelli said with a laugh when asked how much extra attention Hatcher is getting. “A lot more. He got a few guys looking at him today. It’s all part of it. He’s got to still produce.”

There isn’t a defensive tackle in the league producing more than Hatcher right now.