OXNARD, Calif. – The path is there for Martez Wilson if he can seamlessly make the transition to defensive end.
Wilson's been a linebacker throughout his football career. But he got work late last season with the Cowboys as a defensive end, and this preseason is the first time Wilson's preparing for a full season on the defensive line.
At first he may have been hesitant. Now, he sees the opportunity in front of him on a team that needs pass rushers.
"That's how I feel," Wilson said. "I'm an animal, so every day I just grind and go as hard as I can until my legs can't go anymore. The coaches see that on film. No talking, just put it out here and put it on film and that's our resume."
Wilson said he feels more comfortable every day at the position, learning how to read opposing linemen, jump the tackles and get the linemen off balance. He feels like his hands are getting faster and he's getting quicker off the line.
That was evident during Sunday's Blue-White Scrimmage, when he got around the tackle for a strip sack on Brandon Weeden that Wilson then picked up and returned for a touchdown. Plays like that give Wilson more confidence every day in his pass rushing ability and potential.
"Everything's quicker," Wilson said. "No reading, it's just go now. Get off the ball, go now, aggressive immediately. At linebacker, you can kind of read the line, read the running backs, no. None of that at d-end. You've just got to go, get off the ball, everything right now." [embedded_ad]
Also unlike the linebacker spot, now if he fails to make a play, he has a face full of Tyron Smith to deal with. Defensive coordinator likes to mix up his linemen, but Wilson is mostly playing as a right defensive end with the backups. Occasionally, he'll also get work against the starters.
The more plays he makes like the one in the scrimmage, the more he'll see Smith.
"They love defensive ends here," Wilson said. "I'm just going to keep coming out every day. Lucky for me, though, I get to go against Tyron, one of the best tackles in the game. His backups aren't bad either. Every day I get to go against all our different tackles and get to work different moves and they've all got different sets."
Wilson realizes the team's obvious need for defensive linemen, and he said he's doing everything he can to be prepared for that switch. He's improving his hand quickness, doing extra wind sprints and gassers and trying to get physically prepared for the new challenge after switching over from linebacker.
He hopes the work he's put in pays off Thursday when the Cowboys take on the Chargers.
"I play under pressure," Wilson said. "Pressure does two things, make diamonds or bursts pipes. I love being under pressure. That's the time you've got to execute."