Although it didn't look like it in last Sunday's game against the Rams, rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was admittedly nervous, star-struck and overwhelmed at the outset.
"It felt like a dream," Wilcox said. "It felt great, being in that tunnel before the game and hearing your name called. It's something you dream about when you are a kid.
It was amazing."
The third round pick who was promoted to the starting role ahead of veteran Will Allen was comforted knowing his dad was in the stands for his big day. But he acknowledges his thoughts were also on his mom, who died of lupus in August.
"I did think about my mom when I walked out," Wilcox said. i know she would have been proud of me. She is the reason i play with a chip on my shoulder
That's how I attack the field and lay it on the line."
If Ware was nervous, it certainly didn't show. From the looks of things he played largely mistake free as there were certainly no glaring miscues from the rookie. He credits his play to the hard work he put but says the looks are deceiving.
"I just work hard," Wilcox said. "I study. I stay late and come in early when everybody is not here. The hard work I put in pays off in off that way so I wouldn't stick out like a rookie. But I made a lot of mistakes. The mistakes I made them at full speed. I still have room to grow. I'm still coming in early and working hard."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave Wilcox high marks for his performance against the Rams. He said it was a continuation of Wilcox has shown since he was drafted by the Cowboys _ that the game is not to big for him even though he came from tiny Georgia Southern and has only one year of experience at safety.
"Wilcox did a nice job in the game," Garrett said. He’s a very active player. He’s active in the run game, he’s very aggressive coming to the line of scrimmage and making plays. I thought he tackled well in the game – he can tackle better – and I thought he was pretty sound in the back end. He maintained his depth and his width in different coverages, reacted to the ball well. It didn’t seem too big for him. I thought it was a good start.. He just has a confidence about him. It’s not a cockiness. But it’s a healthy confidence that, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ And he’s had that really since the spring. We tried to help him grow and develop as a player, give him some different opportunities to help him understand what it’s like to play a regular NFL game as a safety. At each of those turns he’s taken advantage of those and showed us he can do it. Again, he responded well the other day.