ARLINGTON, Texas – It's easy to mock the sloppy, unimportant nature of an NFL preseason game.
There were penalties aplenty of Friday night against the Dolphins, and the vast majority of the players in the game won't make either team's final roster. However easy it might be to point that out, though, Cedric Thornton offered a stark reminder about life in the NFL.
"You've just got to look at it – these guys' lives are on the line," he said. "If you get in a fight with a guy that you are underestimating his talent, you'll probably get your butt whooped."
Thornton, a four-year starter in Philadelphia before signing in Dallas, said he did that on Friday. The result was a sloppier effort than his first outing against the Rams.
"If you're not on your stuff – I learned this tonight – then you can get pushed around, and you can look like you're a rookie," he said.
It wasn't all bad. Thornton recovered a fumble after a Shaneil Jenkins sack, setting the stage for a Dallas field goal. Rather than take the credit, the veteran defensive tackle attributed that to "the favor of God," and said he needed to improve.
Thornton might be frustrated, but it was a fairly productive night all the way around. The Cowboys finished with three sacks and five tackles for loss, to go with Jenkins' fumble recovery. Thornton worked well into the third quarter, and it's a safe bet he'll get a big workload against next week as he works to get himself up to speed in Rod Marinelli's system.
"I've never played in this defense, so I'm a repetitions guy," he said. "I came from a D2 school, I didn't have too much coaching, I kind of coached myself. This system is all about reps, all about getting better, all about knowing technique."