Defensive end Marcus Spears practiced Tuesday as the Cowboys opened a three-day minicamp, a welcome change for him after he missed most of the OTAs with a neck injury.
He said he was glad to be back on the field, and especially glad to be working on the left side again. He said last year’s position move to the right side made it a “rocky” year.
“I didn’t really get a feel coming in – training camp late, the lockout – so I felt behind the whole season, especially playing a new position at that point,” he said. “It was a tough adjustment, and I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do at it. But now, I’m back on my left side, and I’ve got time to learn the defense and hopefully translate that into me being a real good defensive lineman.”
Spears had only 16 tackles and one sack in 16 games last year. He was re-signed by the Cowboys after missing most of 2010 with injury. But this year, the eighth-year veteran is getting the benefit of health and an offseason, defensive line coach Brian Baker said.
“He’s right now better than he was at any point last year,” Baker said. “Marcus struggled last year. He’d be the first to tell you that. He didn’t play the way he had been playing, the way he’s capable of playing. But right now, he’s working to get back to where he was.”
Spears said the Cowboys understand that he wasn’t comfortable on the right side last year.
“I had the conversation with Coach Baker,” Spears said. “I expressed to him that I was more comfortable playing left end. I had been doing it for seven years previous. To come back with no time to actually practice on the right side, a new position, a new territory, and to be trying to leaern with live bullets flying, it’s tough to do. And I just didn’t have success at it.
“We all want to get back to where we’re comfortable. That’s human nature. If I had had time to actually slowly learn how to play right end, it would have been a different scenario at right end. I firmly believe that,” he said.
-- Carlos Mendez