IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys will see a few familiar faces on the Buccaneers' defense Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
There are five, to be exact, including three who contributed to Rod Marinelli's defense last season: cornerback Sterling Moore, linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive tackle Henry Melton.
Marinelli has connections to Tampa Bay, too. He coached the Bucs' defensive line from 1996-2005 and also was assistant head coach his final four years there, including their 2002 championship season. He and current Bucs head coach Lovie Smith coached together in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000, and Marinelli later served as Smith's defensive coordinator with the Bears.
Given their shared philosophies on defensive scheme, it's not surprising these former Cowboys players have fit in with Tampa Bay.
"Rod and Lovie are really close friends. They've worked together and I think they've influenced each other. You see that in how they play," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Some of those things from a scheme standpoint, from a philosophy standpoint look to familiar to us and that helps you to a certain extent. But you really have to evaluate the team you're playing. The guys they have playing the system are doing a nice job on defense right now."
Moore has had the biggest impact of the three new Bucs so far, intercepting Eli Manning on the first play of the Bucs' Week 9 loss to the Giants in his first start of the season at cornerback. The five-year veteran played three seasons in Dallas as a key reserve and filled in as the third cornerback for an injured Mo Claiborne in 2014.
Moore signed a one-year deal with the Bucs in March.
"Sterling is a good player and he played a lot of snaps for us last year," Garrett said in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media. "Unfortunately, in free agency sometimes guys have an opportunity to go elsewhere that might be a better fit for them and that's what happened with Sterling. But he played a lot of snaps in our defense last year and was a productive player for us. He did a good job defending the run, making some plays – he's a good tackler. And then, similarly, just covering guys.
"The play that he made the other day (against the Giants) to start the game, not unlike things we've seen from him in the past. He's got some savvy about him and a good eye for the ball and just seems to be around it a lot and makes a lot of plays to help the team win."
Melton, a free-agent signing by the Cowboys last spring, and Carter, a 2011 second-round pick by the Cowboys who played four seasons in Dallas, are currently reserves on the Bucs' defense. Melton has six tackles and a sack; Carter has six tackles on defense and he's tied for the team lead with six special teams tackles.
"That's the nature of our business. There are a lot of guys who you like and want to have on our team, but they had an opportunity to go elsewhere and often times you come across them and compete against them later," Garrett said. "Each of those guys did a good job for us when they were here."
The two other former Cowboys on Tampa Bay's roster: cornerback Mike Jenkins, a first-round pick in 2008 who was on the Cowboys' roster through the 2012 season, and linebacker Orie Lemon, who played two seasons in Dallas (2012-13).