Cowboys focus on linebacker development during mini camp
Posted on June 18, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 3:33 PM
IRVING -- The latest count in a changing Dallas Cowboys defense shows only seven players who started opening day last year are back this year.
Despite the tremendous turnover, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he's confident his defense will be better than last year.
“Because we were so bad last year that there is no place but up,” Jones said.
The Dallas defense did finish dead last in the league last year and once again, they're going forward without their defensive signal-caller, Sean Lee.
“I don't have the answers on how we're going to get there, some of that is going to have to be developed by some of these guys that are here and how they progress during training camp,” Jones said.
Justin Durant started next to Lee in the season opener at strong side linebacker last year and is the leading candidate to take over Lee's spot in the middle.
“You know I’m just the vet, I'm the older guy in the room,” Durant said. “I was a backup last year at the mike [middle linebacker] position. I think it just feels more comfortable with me right now.”
“The great thing about Justin is he can play all positions,” said Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus. “I don't know if that's his strongest position, but I don't know that it's not.”
This is the eighth year in the league for Durant and while he's been around for a while, those behind him have very little or no experience. Getting those players ready is at the top of the list for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
“They'll earn it, earn it to contribute,” Marinelli said. “They'll come into camp, what they've learned here and now each man has to apply it in training camp.”
“You know I know what's going on a little bit more now than I did last year so I can talk more, I can it a little bit before it happens but I'm still learning just like every other guy on this defense,” says linebacker Devonte Holloman.
And that's something that can only change with experience.