James Hanna began to deliver on the Dallas Cowboys’ investment in him late last season, and one person they can thank is backup quarterback Kyle Orton.
He stayed on the rookie tight end’s case, and it paid off, said new tight ends coach Wes Phillips.
“People saw the end result where he started making plays, but we also saw when he was running scout team at the beginning of the year and Kyle Orton is on him every single day about how to practice, how to be a pro, how to work,” Phillips said Thursday in meeting reporters for the first time in his new job. “He really made some strides.”
Hanna, drafted in the sixth round out of Oklahoma last year, caught a pass in the season opener – his only catch for the first 12 games – but had seven catches in the last four games.
“He really impressed us as far as his work ethic and how he went about his job,” Phillips said. “Learning how to finish, learning how to go about meetings and study and prepare, all those sort of things. He’s a very intelligent guy, and we’re looking forward to continuing his development.”
Another change to the NFL Scouting Combine’s testing is on the way.
The combine’s testing has been tweaked over the years, and a significant adaptation is coming. The league plans to implement a second aptitude test to the itinerary for players this week, according to National Football Scouting president Jeff Foster.
An NFL source confirmed that the test will be part of this year’s combine.
Foster said the test is not a replacement for, but rather a counterpart to, the much-criticized Wonderlic test. The Wonderlic has been used at the combines for decades since its origination as an intelligence test in the 1970s by legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry. The Wonderlic’s usefulness and the ethics of relying on it have been sources of debate over the years.
According to Foster, the league spent time developing the new test with a university professor. The hope is that “it’s something that’s a little more evolved than the Wonderlic.”
Clubs have long expressed the importance of years of data built up on tried-and-true testing and measurements, enabling balanced comparisons, so Foster and other combine officials always have been reluctant to eliminate elements from the combine. A recent example is the addition of wingspan to measurements. Some people voiced concerns that wingspan is a more illuminating measurement than arm length, so it was added to the combine, but arm length wasn’t eliminated.
NO LOVIE IN CHICAGO: Rod Marinelli gave up a chance to be Bears defensive coordinator to reunite with Monte Kiffin
Monte Kiffin’s first hire when he arrived in Dallas was Rob Marinelli as his defensive line coach. The two are reunited after a seven-year separation to try to return glory to the Cowboys.
Kiffin and Marinelli were together 10 seasons in Tampa. During their time there, the Bucs defense was in the top 10 in points allowed every year and in the top 10 in yards allowed in all but their first season of 2006 when Tampa ranked 11th. The Bucs went 89-71 from 1996-2005, allowing an average of 281.4 yards and 16.7 points per game. They generated an average of 32 turnovers a season.
“I think what we did there, and a lot of other guys were there with us, [gave us] a bond and… a belief [in the system],” Marinelli said. “There are things maybe you do differently here and there over the course of the year. But that foundation, the fundamentals of what we do, is the core belief for us. That kind of unites us. That’s why I wanted to be a part of this and be back with him.”
Marinelli left the Bucs in 2006 to become head coach of the Detroit Lions. He lasted only three seasons, going 10-38. He spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator in Chicago, working for Lovie Smith, who was the Bucs linebackers coach from 1996-2000.
The Bears wanted to retain Marinelli as defensive coordinator, but he chose to leave.
“There’s no doubt [it was hard to leave],” Marinelli said. “But my No. 1 relationship is with Lovie Smith. Yeah, he’s probably one of my best friends in life, and I believe in him and I went there because of him and it’s not the right place for me without him.”
Marinelli: Coaching With A Sense Of Urgency (Click HERE to watch)
Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli speaks about his principles on defense and what he hopes to bring to the Cowboys.
RELATED: When One Friend Was Ousted, Marinelli Joined Another
IRVING, Texas – Most people would consider a move from defensive coordinator to defensive line coach a demotion. Rod Marinelli isn’t one of those people.
The Cowboys’ defensive line coach gladly accepted his new position in Dallas. The title wasn’t as important as being around coaches that shared a similar knowledge and passion for the game. He has that in Dallas with Monte Kiffin.