IRVING — Cowboys defensive end George Selvie had been on the Dallas roster just 10 days when he played his first preseason game against the Dolphins in Canton, Ohio.
Selvie got two sacks that night after being inspired by Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, who — like Selvie — was born in Pensacola, Florida.
“We were just together three weeks ago at a banquet, and I saw him on the field. He was like, 'They called you.' I was like, 'Yeah,'” Selvie said. “He was like, 'You got to out there and do your thing.'”
Selvie has been doing his thing ever since. He started the first three games of the regular season, replacing the injured Anthony Spencer.
“When I was at Tampa, he was just coming out,” said Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “He was at South Florida then, so I kind of knew the name a little bit and watched him a little bit at that time. But then I kind of lost track of him... and then, all of a sudden, his name popped up.”
The Cowboys signed Selvie to a contract during training camp on July 25. That's the same day Anthony Spencer had knee surgery. Since then, Selvie has gone from being an insurance policy to a starter.
“George is the guy who is going to take his place, and he's done a good job so far," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We continue to expect great things from him.”
“One of the things we talk about all the time as a football team, as an organization, is the 'next man up.' The next man up has been George Selvie for most of training camp, the preseason and the start of the season," Garrett added. "He's taken full advantage of his opportunity to play."
We've got some legends — DeMarcus Ware,” Selvie said as one example. “We've got Hatcher out there rushing well, just a lot of guys on the defense. Having them be able to trust me to go out there in place of Spencer is big.”
Selvie was a 7th round draft pick by St. Louis in 2010. Since then he's been to Carolina and Jacksonville before finding what he hopes is a home in Dallas.
“Mindset-wise, I just know I've got to get out there and make the most of this opportunity,” Selvie said.
It’s an opportunity that may not come up again.