Josh Brent was fairly impressive after joining the Cowboys as a late addition to camp last year, and his style is more similar to that of a traditional nose tackle than starter Jay Ratliff.
But that doesn't mean Brent is counting on taking a big leap in 2011. The supplemental seventh-round pick from a year ago will likely start Thursday's preseason game with Ratliff nursing a hip injury, but believes his snaps will again be limited once Ratliff is healthy.
"I still have a Pro Bowler in front of me," Brent said. "He's the best nose tackle in the NFL. So until I become the best, pretty much, I don't think I will be able to step on the field as much as people think I will."
Given Brent's success on limited snaps a year ago, there was the annual speculation that Ratliff might kick out to end, but that doesn't seem to be in the Cowboys' plans. Brent will spell Ratliff on some running downs, but last year barely reached double-digit snaps in most games.
How does he plan to develop from the sidelines?
"Just watching Jay - watching him and getting experience in these preseason games as much as possible," Brent said. "Learning from the defensive line across the board, guys like Marcus Spears, who is great in the run game, and watching Jay, who is phenomenal at the nose tackle and also phenomenal in the pass game."