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STAR: Player Search A Dizzying Process For Scouting Dept.
George Selvie was at home in Florida, three months removed from an NFL roster, when he got the phone call.
The Dallas Cowboys had injury problems, and they wanted the defensive end to fill a roster spot in Oxnard, Calif. Few could have predicted at the time that the fourth-year player would sit second on the team with six sacks through November.
“It was great to get that phone call, to get another opportunity to come out here and play NFL football,” Selvie said. “It felt great, and I was ready to go when they called me.”
If you’ve paid any attention to the Cowboys’ 2013 campaign, you know Selvie’s story would become a familiar one. In what has been a revolving door of necessity this season, the team has shuffled a startling 17 players through its defensive front.
More surprising than the sheer number, though, is the production these stop-gap solutions – by now affectionately known as the “No Names” – have managed without much fanfare and with even less preparation.
“Sometimes they’ll bring a guy in and work him out, and I’ll say, ‘He’s got enough here. He’s got something I like,’” said defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. “And then I think you coach him up hard, and you think, ‘Hey, he’s got a chance. This guy believes in himself.’”
It’s to be expected for a professional athlete to believe in himself. If the “No Names” have the ability, it’s Marinelli that is drawing the praise for harnessing it. The football lifer has coached in the NFL since 1996 and has overseen fearsome defenses in Tampa Bay and Chicago.
In Dallas’ defensive line meeting room, Marinelli has the task of molding a unit ranging from a future Hall of Famer in DeMarcus Ware to players signed out of unemployment.
“I’m a source of energy for them. I’m the source of our energy in that room. I’ve got to set the tempo and the tone and the standard for that room,” Marinelli said. “I don’t care where you came from, you now have to rise to my level – and they’re trying.”
If there’s anyone in the NFL with the credentials to coach defensive linemen, it’s Rod Marinelli. His self-described unwavering confidence as a coach might help explain why Dallas didn’t address the position in the 2013 draft, and why unheralded defensive linemen have continued to make plays.
“Teaching is a big part of that, inspiring is a big part of that. Seeing the real positive traits in people and getting them into situations where they can be successful,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of Marinelli. “He helps them be successful by how he teaches them technically, how he teaches them physically, how he teaches them emotionally.”
But that doesn’t quite answer the question. From where are the Cowboys pulling these guys and how are they finding players that will last?