IRVING, Texas – Caleb McSurdy knew when he got a packet of plays in his locker at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning that his day of practice would go a bit differently than normal.
The linebacker from Montana could be seen at practice lining up at fullback in goal-line situations. Other players to take turns at the spot included guard Kevin Kowalski and newly signed tight end Dante Rosario.
"I felt pretty good out there," McSurdy said. "It wasn't super complex, the goal-line blocking scheme. You just have a guy and you go block him, so it wasn't too bad. But it was fun going offense and then going right to defense, just kind of back and forth. That was a unique mental thing. It was pretty fun."
McSurdy hasn't abandoned his position on defense, but with Lawrence Vickers still sidelined after back surgery in April, an offensive opportunity has opened up. McSurdy said the team is "a little light on that side" with personnel, and he's willing to help out wherever he can to potentially make the team.
That may mean the 2012 seventh-round pick has to play a position in the backfield he hasn't played since high school.
"Especially for a guy like me that's on the bubble, so to speak," McSurdy said, "the more you can do, the better. I've heard that from like every coach, offense and defense, as well as some of the trainers. It's true. If you're valuable, if you can play a little offense, little defense, be on the [special] teams, playing multiple roles as just one guy, that's always looked at highly."
McSurdy played some fullback and tight end growing up, as well as a few games at running back, though he admits he didn't rack up many yards on the ground. The Cowboys are no strangers to converting linebackers into fullbacks. They did it with Robert Thomas in 1999 and Oliver Hoyte in 2006.
The thought of getting the ball or blocking for DeMarco Murray is intriguing to McSurdy. It wasn't a total surprise for him to hear he would be playing some on the other side of the ball, either. He knew that could be a possibility after recovering from an Achilles surgery that wiped out his 2012 season.
"There was a little discussion," McSurdy said. "I got worked out by the Cowboys' old running backs coach, Skip Peete, so I knew the potential was there. We talked a little bit about it. I guess kind of at this point in OTAs, they needed some help. So they did it, and I'm happy to line up. I thought the chance would come up maybe at some point."
McSurdy said it's a fantastic opportunity to find another place to fit on the football field. That doesn't mean he's abandoning his post as a linebacker, though. During goal-line drills, he quickly shifted from fullback to linebacker. He said his primary position is still at linebacker, so it's important to still get those reps, which can make for a tiring day.
"I think a lot about high school and like, 'How did I play both ways for a full game and then special teams?'" he said. "It doesn't make any sense."