Coleman: The Overlooked Starter

shows, especially to Parcells.

"Yeah, I think the defense fits him a lot better and he's making the most of that," Parcells said. "I think he's done a good job. He's going to play quite a bit Sunday."

But while Coleman might play a lot of snaps against the Chargers, don't be surprised if he doesn't "show up" on every play. For his position, and what his assignments are, Coleman isn't expected to make a lot of plays.

In the 3-4, the big ends like Coleman are in on mostly run downs. They are the muscle guys. Then on third down, in passing situations, that's when you'll see DeMarcus Ware, Ellis, Marcus Spears and maybe even Eric Ogbogu, who was re-signed just on Thursday after getting released earlier in the week.

So for Coleman, it's not always a glory position. He'll slug it out against the run, then maybe get a few chances to rush the passer.

"That's just the way it is," Coleman said. "But you can still make some big plays. I've got an opportunity and that's all you can ask for."

And few of us ever thought Coleman would get that opportunity, especially when the Cowboys drafted Ware, who was listed as a defensive end, with the 11th overall pick. Then the Cowboys took Spears with the 20th pick, who unlike Ware, is a prototype defensive end who figured start right away.

And if that wasn't enough, how about the Cowboys drafting Chris Canty in the fourth round, and then even Jay Ratliff in the seventh?

So where was there room for Coleman?

In fact, there didn't seem to be much room at all. And after two mini-camps this summer, Spears was working with the first-team at left defensive end, ahead of Coleman and the rest of the ends.

But apparently, Coleman wasn't too far behind. All it took was Spears missing the first day of training camp because of short contract holdout. When he returned the second day, he found himself backing up Coleman at the position, and still hadn't overtaken him when he suffered a knee and ankle injury that kept him out until last Thursday's preseason game against Jacksonville.

"He's just hanging around," said Pro Bowl tackle La'Roi Glover, who similar to Coleman, also struggled to find a role in Oakland early in his career and eventually landed with the Saints, where his career took off. "That's what you have to do sometimes. You just hang around long enough, you make enough plays and next thing you know, you've got a position on the team, or even a starting role."

And regardless what the expectations were for him back in April, Coleman will head into Sunday's game with both.

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