Starting From Scratch

DeCamillis knows his core group of special teams players are always changing by the season.

fullbacks might not work.

And salary cap or no salary cap, football is still a business. In football, the tie goes to the cheapest, even if it's not really a tie.

As for Octavien, he might just be the odd man out unless there is an injury. The Cowboys just have too many young linebackers and they're all backups. Jason Williams and Sean Lee aren't going anywhere, and neither are Brandon Williams and Victor Butler. That's three second-year pros and a rookie - it's hard to move those guys off the roster.

Now Butler wasn't far behind on the tackle sheet, registering nine solo stops. That's at least some continuity for DeCamillis, who also has to replace Bobby Carpenter and now John Phillips, who is out for the year.

Who knows, maybe all five of those aforementioned players will be back. But even the doubt means DeCamillis has to make sure his next group of players are ready to go, just in case.

"What you have to do is make sure your system adapts to the guys that come in," DeCamillis said. "When you have young guys - and it's happened over and over, over the years now - you have to make sure your system adapts to young players and they're able to get it. Once they get it, and that's why training camp and OTAs are so important, now we want them to be able to play fast on Sundays. That's hopefully what happens."

Sounds easy enough, right? Just make the special teams stuff so easy that the rookies and young players easily understand. Well, the flip side to that is if you keep basic and vanilla on one side, it's not too hard for the opposing teams and special teams coaches to figure it out as well.

"That's exactly right. That's why your teaching process has to be simple for your team, but complex for the other team," DeCamillis said. "To me, that's the sign of a real good football coach."

For the last 22 years, DeCamillis has showed the signs why he's a great football coach.

And this year, just like all the rest, he'll have to start from scratch to prove it all again.

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