IRVING, Texas – It's rare a person refers to another person as a rat in a positive light.
Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye calls defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli "Master Splinter" – the omniscient rat master guru in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series.
"I call him Master Splinter, because he is Master Splinter," Okoye said. "He's a heck of a teacher, makes you become a student of the game and a master of your craft."
Master Splinter was the figure all the Ninja Turtles looked up to, and he also cared for and believed strongly in each of them. Those are characteristics Okoye believes Marinelli possesses.
Okoye played with Marinelli for two years in Chicago in 2011 and 2012, and he said the defensive coordinator played a major role in his decision to sign with Dallas.
"He's by far the best position coach I've had and defensive coordinator I've had since I've been in the pros," Okoye said.
What makes him that way? [embedded_ad]
"His drive, his willingness to teach," Okoye said. "He makes sure you know your strengths and your weaknesses and that you're exploiting your strengths and that you're bettering your weaknesses."
Okoye considers his first step and pass rushing skills as his strengths, and he believes his main weakness is that at times he overanalyzes or overthinks too much.
"So he gets me to calm down and just play ball," Okoye said.
The defensive tackle missed last season and hasn't yet suited up for the Cowboys. He said he can't wait for his next step and is leaving that timetable up "to the man upstairs."
Like many of the other players on the Cowboys' defensive line, Okoye's experienced varied success throughout his career, with as many as 5.5 sacks in 2007 and four sacks in 2011 and as little as one sack 2008 and 2012.
After sitting out last season, he said he looks forward to joining a group of unsung players looking to make a name for themselves in Dallas.