ARLINGTON, Texas --In Thursday's preseason opener, defensive end Jason Hatcher didn't look like he'd been in Rob Ryan's defense for all of a week.
Hatcher was active in the starters' subpackages and the second-team defense. On the opening drive, he hurried Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton into an incompletion that forced Denver to kick a field goal. Later, his pressure led to an Alan Ball interception on Tim Tebow (the play was nullified by pass interference).
Hatcher, who re-signed for three years and $6 million a week into training camp, has 7.5 sacks in five seasons with the Cowboys. He worked hard to stay in shape during the lockout, knowing he could fit into Ryan's rotation.
"I'm playing more right side this year versus left side last year," Hatcher said. "I'm getting more comfortable as practice goes along.
"It allows me to use my athletic ability -- not read blocks, just get off the ball and make plays."
Hatcher met Ryan informally before the lockout started, but he didn't really get to learn the scheme's concepts. And as a free agent, he didn't know where he'd end up.
He's back, and so far, so good.
"It's a lot thrown at me right now, and I'm learning on the run," he said.