Terrell McClain looking to start for Dallas

Newly signed Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain has bounced around in three NFL seasons, but entering his fourth year he's hoping to not only find a secure home but a starting gig.

McClain, a third-round draft pick from South Florida by the Carolina Panthers, started 12 games in 2011, recording 13 tackles and one sack. But he was cut in 2012 and played with New England and Houston for a total of four games.

McClain played 16 games with the Texans last season in a reserve role, getting eight tackles.

"Just trying to find a place to fit in [after] I got released," he said. "But now that I'm going into my fourth year, it's time for me to get back on that horse and become another starter. Just try to see if I can fit in the NFL like I did my rookie year."

The Cowboys are familiar with McClain's work.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli worked McClain out when he was coming out of college in 2011 and defensive end George Selvie played with him in college and briefly in Carolina.

McClain said he can play both defensive tackle spots in a 4-3 defense and he's also versed in the 3-4 scheme. He likes Marinelli's role for him as the three-technique along the line that was boosted by the signing of Henry Melton on Tuesday.

"Just the fast-paced, get off the ball, get after the quarterback every play," McClain said of Marinelli's defensive scheme. "If you have good quickness off the ball and good footwork you can rally make a difference in the system."

When free agency started there were concerns regarding the Cowboys' depth along the defensive line. The loss of defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and defensive end DeMarcus Ware were major, and defensive end Anthony Spencer is currently a free agent. The Cowboys have interest in Spencer's return but no serious contract talks have occurred.

So the team has filled the roles by signing players such as Jeremy Mincey, McClain and Melton to improve the depth along the line. Melton is expected to replace Hatcher and it's possible that Mincey replaces Ware.

McClain is now part of what's expected to be a heavy rotation along the line. Marinelli employed a rotation last season due to injuries, inexperience and to keep players fresh. The same thing could occur again.

"Hopefully, these next two years, I can make a home here," McClain said of his role. "We'll see how things play out."