FRISCO, Texas – Ask a rookie what kind of issues they typically deal with in their first season in the NFL and you'll likely get a variety of answers.
- Speed of the game.
- Size of the players.
- Picking up the terminology.
- Learning the playbook.
- Even finding your way around the new facility can be overwhelming.
For Isaac Alarcón, he's dealing with all of that and even a little bit more. Born in Mexico, Alarcón is still trying to fully grasp the English language, and so that's just one more issue he's trying to tackle.
"Not with the playbook because the coaches speak a formal English, so more political," Alarcón said of the language barrier. "But when I'm with my teammates, with the rookies, I do struggle a bit because they bring their slang. They have their colloquial language. They speak very fast. They have very different words, and then suddenly I am out of the loop. But thank God I have friends who tell me that, 'No Isaac, I'll explain it to you.'"
One thing the rookie offensive lineman has going for him over his colleagues is he knows he's going to be around this season.
Not all rookies or even young veterans can make such a statement. But as part of the NFL's International Pathway Program, Alarcón has been allocated to the Cowboys with a roster exemption. He will at least be on the practice squad all season but is eligible to make the 55-man roster.
But first things first, he's just trying to keep his head from spinning.
"It's a totally different world. This place is incredible …" Alarcón said in a recent interview with Ambar Garcia on SomosCowboys.com. "Thank God everyone received me very well. Thank God I have a very good relationship with my rookie teammates. In fact, I had the opportunity to talk to veterans like Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Honestly, they are all very nice people. They have welcomed me. And what else can I tell you, I think I'm with the best team in the entire NFL."
It also sounds like Alarcón believes he's on the biggest team as well.
"I don't think I've ever seen human beings this big," said Alarcón, who is listed on the official roster as 6-7, 320. "I mean, I'm big, but in Mexico I got used to seeing people smaller than me, and then I come here and there are incredible human beings. They are enormous. I think I was surprised when I saw Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Tyrone Crawford. They are very big people."
And not just big, but fast as well. Alarcón said he's adjusting to the speed – not just on the field.
"The most complicated thing is the speed of the game," Alarcón said. "Just as everyone is very fast on the field, very agile, so are they in the meeting rooms. We have a meeting for about an hour, which is when we install about 20 plays something like that, and the coaches are expecting that those 20 plays that they just taught can be done perfectly when it comes to doing them on the field. So, there is no such thing as 'Oh my bad,' or 'Oh I got distracted.' No, you have to be focused all the time you're here."
Alarcón is one of four international players assigned to NFL clubs this year as part of the Pathway Program. All four NFC East teams have one player each on the roster who will stay on the squad in some capacity for the entire season.