FRISCO, Texas – If ever there was a name to get lost in the shuffle, it feels like it’s Kerry Hyder.
That’s no knock against Hyder himself, it’s just that a lot has happened this spring. The Cowboys signed the veteran on March 18 after he spent three years rushing the passer for Detroit.
The following day they signed Randall Cobb, and two weeks after that they traded for Robert Quinn. Not long after that came the news of DeMarcus Lawrence’s contract extension, and on and on the news cycle spends.
Now that the on-field work is actually underway, it’s becoming evident – write off Hyder at your own peril.
“He’s a tough, hard-nosed football player. He’s an experienced NFL guy,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli on Wednesday.
It’s a valid and slightly ironic point. Of all the promising defensive linemen on the Cowboys’ roster, Hyder might be getting the least amount of fanfare. In reality, he’s their most experienced pass rusher behind the trio of Lawrence, Quinn and Tyrone Crawford.
In four NFL seasons, Hyder has 42 career tackles. More importantly, he authored an eight-sack season for the Lions in 2016, giving him the fourth-highest career tally of all the defensive ends on this roster.
“I just came to play ball,” Hyder said. “I love how the defense plays and how they attack. Anywhere they put me across the line, I felt like I could help and I could play.”
Maybe that’s part of the reason why there’s so little talk about the new addition. For a while when Hyder first arrived, there was debate about whether he’d play outside or inside. After all, during his final year in Detroit, he spent extensive time at defensive tackle.
Through three weeks of OTAs, there has been no debate. With Lawrence and Crawford sidelined by injury, Hyder has teamed with Dorance Armstrong to get the bulk of the first-team work at left defensive end.
“I think I’m just going to try to keep him in one position right now to make this team – so he can come out and show who he is,” Marinelli said. “And then once you get that, maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.”
Maybe that’ll come during training camp, but right now it’s all been left side work for Hyder – and he’s just fine with that. The left side is where he had the best season of his career, so it only makes sense that he’d be happy to be there.
“I think it’s more my speed and my attacking style, playing left end is where I feel most comfortable,” he said. “To be able to go out there and do that has been an easier transition.”
At this time of year, Marinelli is always sure to point out that the pads haven’t come on yet. The storylines of OTAs could change drastically when the real practices start.
For the time being, though, Hyder is a name worth remembering on a deep defensive line.
“He is a very dependable, smart, veteran, mature guy. I like him so far,” Marinelli said.