FRISCO, Texas — The lights just got a lot brighter overhead for Markquese Bell. With the season-ending injury to rookie third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown — having suffered a torn ACL in his second preseason contest — Bell will be looked upon as the frontrunner to take over the role of safety/linebacker flex that would've belonged to Overshown this season.
It's nothing Bell is unfamiliar with, considering the former FAMU star was being groomed by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for such a role from the moment he signed on as an undrafted rookie in 2022. But having officially, and literally, gotten a call from Quinn this week to notify him of the move, it's time to lock in.
"However I can help the team is how I see myself," said Bell on Wednesday, as the Cowboys wrapped their first padded practice in North Texas. "If they need me at linebacker, safety, hybrid — willing to do whatever. I think I'm a football player, honestly, so it's whatever they need me to do."
It's exactly that kind of attitude that combines with Bell's talent, which includes an ability to tackle that could shake loose an opponent's fillings, that makes him perfect for the … er, um … position.
Malik Hooker, a former first-round pick who has recently signed a third contract to remain with the Cowboys, spoke about just how impressed he’s been with Bell this summer; the latter having stepped up in practices and preseason games following early-camp injuries to Donovan Wilson and Israel Mukuamu.
"Obviously, you see Markquese Bell out to get a lot of the first-team resume," Hooker said of Bell.. "He's been vocal. He's been stepping in as if he's one of the veteran guys. You know, he called himself that the last couple of [practices].
"I mean, the last couple of days we can call him a rookie, you have to pay your dues there but, just as a professional, he handles it very well. He comes in, puts his head down and works every day and studies, and then that's all you gotta ask for as a guy.
"I like that."
So does Quinn and head coach Mike McCarthy, who are looking to Bell to make an impact in Year 2. And, for his part, it's simply about diving deeper into the playbook than before.
"We did lose a great young player," he said of Overshown. "But I've been playing dime [package] more, so I'm just trying to get more in-tune with it and learn the gap fits."
And with two training camps now under his belt, he's starting to settle in at the NFL level.
"I'm a lot more comfortable with the guys and the coaches," he said. "And when you're a lot more comfortable, you can play a lot faster — so that's helped me a lot."