Zack Martin's Brother, Nick, Coached By The Cowboys This Week In Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. – "Set the huddle, Zack," Jason Garrett shouts. Force of habit.

This week in Mobile, "Zack" is actually Nick Martin, younger brother of the Cowboys' All-Pro guard.

"I kind of caught myself," Garrett said with a grin. "So I'm calling him 'Notre Dame' now."

While big brother spends the week in Hawaii enjoying his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection, Nick Martin – two years younger than Zack – is sharpening his skills at the Senior Bowl under guidance from the Cowboys' coaching staff.

Zack and Nick spent three years together on the Notre Dame offensive line, including the 2013 season in the starting lineup – Zack at left tackle, Nick at center. The following spring, coming off a terrific Senior Bowl performance, Zack got drafted No. 16 overall by Dallas.

His advice for Nick this week was simple.

"He said it was going to be hectic. It was," Nick said after Thursday's practice. "But his main thing was, when it comes down to it, strap your pads on and you've got to go play. Play your game and play hard."

Football is a Martin family tradition. Their father, Keith, played defensive tackle at Kentucky. Their older brother, Josh, played on the same high school team as Zack. Now Nick is preparing himself for the draft in April.

A captain for the Fighting Irish in the two seasons since Zack departed for the NFL, Nick started 26 games at guard (junior) and center (senior). The North team roster lists him as a guard, and he has practiced at both guard spots as well as center this week.

"At that position, if you're an offensive lineman, position flex is critical," Garrett said Wednesday. "Typically most teams carry nine, at the most 10 offensive linemen on their roster. Most teams take seven guys to the game. So if you have an ability to play both spots, particularly on the interior of the offensive line, your value increases. A lot of these guys are here to demonstrate they can do both those things and we're going to give them every opportunity to do it."

Zack has demonstrated versatility at the NFL level, moving to right guard in Dallas after starting three straight years at tackle for the Irish.

What about similarities in playing style between the brothers?

"Well you've heard me say this before – it's unfair to compare players," Garrett said. "Sometimes when they're in the same family, they play the same position and they went to the same school you want to go down that road.

"But Zack is a great football player and we're lucky to have him. We're excited to have Nick here to evaluate him. He's been a good football player at Notre Dame and you can see why. He's a smart guy. He's a tough guy."

Nick has enjoyed working with Zack's position coach, Frank Pollack, on blocking technique this week. He also has been able to compete in practice against some of the nation's best defensive linemen.

Those matchups will continue in Saturday's game against the South team.

"It's awesome," he said. "You bring the best players in college football together, you get to meet new people you played against, people you hear about, and it's been really cool."

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