IRVING, Texas – Defensive linemen know when they come to Dallas they better be ready to play quickly.
Everette Brown was the latest in a long line of defensive linemen to come out of free agency or a team's practice squad and suit up for the Cowboys the week he got to Dallas. It's possible Everett Dawkins does the same this week.
"I've seen it," Dawkins said. "It's a big opportunity. Just me being on the practice squad, I've always kept up with other teams, who's hurt."
Dawkins said he knew right before the Cowboys signed Marvin Austin that they were in need of a defensive tackle. He thought the Bengals and Bears could have used one as well.
"I mean, that's what I do," he said. "That's my job. I want to get on the field, so I've always kept up with that stuff. Just to get that call and be coming here, it's amazing. It's like, 'Yeah, it really happened.' It feels good."
The Cowboys have cycled through linemen since the start of the year. Jerome Long was signed on Sept. 7 and played Sept. 8 in the opener. Drake Nevis was signed on Sept. 24 and played five days later against the Chargers. Jarius Wynn was signed the same week Jason Vega got called up from the practice squad, and both players played that weekend.
The trend continued with Austin and Brown, and it's likely to continue with Dawkins. When a lineman comes to Dallas, he'll be playing that week if he demonstrates enough in practice.
"That was my anticipation and that was my preparation," Brown said. "I've worked hard during my time away from football to stay in shape and stay ready, but I knew that once I was signed, I had to have a great week of practice and work on my fundamentals to get back in as much football shape as I could before Sunday, so that if I did have the opportunity, I'd be ready."
That doesn't mean every player will stick around if they're not cutting it. [embedded_ad]
The Cowboys continue to cycle linemen in and out, but some have stayed for the long haul. George Selvie came to the team in training camp and is now a staple on the defensive line. Nevis is an example of a tackle who arrived early in the year and is still around.
"As soon as they get there, they've got to learn the scheme," said Jason Hatcher. "Everette Brown got here a couple days ago and played Sunday. It shows you how fast these guys have got to be ready to play. It starts with me just trying to make them feel comfortable as a big brother, whatever I am to them, just to make them feel comfortable."
The players with more versatility have a leg up as well. After playing at end last week, both Wynn and Brown are prepared to move inside or outside, depending on how healthy Hatcher and Nick Hayden are Sunday.
Hatcher said he makes sure to introduce himself to the new guys and makes them feel at home. He said it's been a test, but it's also been fun to see the new guys' personalities off the field.
"They've been coming in and responding right away," Hatcher said." It starts with me on the D-line, I'm one of the leaders with D-Ware, so I've just got to do a good job of bringing them in, corralling around them, making them feel comfortable so they can go out there and play."