After the way last year ended, nose tackle Josh Brent is ready for his third pro season to begin. He finished 2011 on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered on Thanksgiving Day.
It was a tough end to a tough year for him and some of the other Cowboys defenders, who spent much of the season trying to play catch up with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
“It was so much on the go, on the fly, with team adjustments,” Brent said after an OTA practice in May.
The former seventh-round supplemental pick out of Illinois played in only five games last year. But he said his offseason knee rehab went well, and he didn’t miss a snap of the OTAs or minicamp.
“I flowed right back into everything as far as training, getting back into lifting, running,” he said. “Fell right back into OTAs. Didn’t have to take any time off. Everything was on track and on pace, and I was able to participate.”
The offseason practice will pay off this year for everyone, he said. Brent believes when everyone is more sure of what they are doing on a given play, everyone will be better – including him.
“When we get to the season, we won’t have the miscommunication we had last year,” Brent said. “Offenses get rolling, fastballing, you can’t get the call in every single time. So a lot of times, the backers and safeties have to make the call and adjust the formation and those types of things. Having these OTAs and getting in these situations, getting them studied now and out of the way, by the time we get to the season, they’ll be polished and we won’t have these miscommunications.”
But Brent said he is not assuming anything. Especially about himself.
“I just want to be able to play a role here in this defense,” he said. “First and foremost is to make the team. Make the team, try to create a role for myself on the team somehow, some way.”
Brent said he likes the way the Cowboys defensive line is shaping up. He was impressed by third-round pick Tyrone Crawford and undrafted rookie Ben Bass at defensive end.
“We’ve added, with the two young guys, a little bit of diversity,” he said. “They’re young, youthful, rush the quarterback pretty well. Haven’t really gotten to see Tyrone too much, but obviously, the Cowboys drafted him, so he can play ball. Bass played well in the run game, looked great in the pass game. I think they both fit in perfectly.”
-- Carlos Mendez