New defensive tackle, Terrell McClain, has been making quite the impression in OTAs this week. The former third round pick of the Carolina Panthers has been an underachieving journeyman for much of his four year career. It seems he is finally starting to live up to his once-perceived potential.
Make no mistake, it is entirely too early to draw any reliable conclusions about McClain, or any player for that matter. When the pads come on and practices drag on is when the real players start to separate themselves. But regardless of the legitimacy of the practice, good news is good news.
“He’s just quiet and goes to work every day, said head coach Jason Garrett (as first reported by NBC). “But he’s absolutely one of the guys who is showing up the most in these first eight OTA practices.”
McClain’ career has been fairly pedestrian. But he has flashed top-level talent from time to time at each stop. That’s possibly what makes McClain so intriguing – He has skills he just doesn’t always show it.
Laziness was a common label given to him as he’d disappear for stretches of games. Perhaps it was more than laziness holding him back. Perhaps he was all-to-often miscast and forced to fill a position of need rather than a position he could thrive in.
“He’s not the typical zero nose tackle in a 3-4 defense where he just sits over the center and two-gaps,” added Garrett. “That hasn’t been his mode since he’s been playing. He’s always been a guy who has been on the edge, being able to play up field a little bit. We’re definitely seeing some of that through these OTAs.”
Where exactly McClain fits on the defensive line has yet to be determined although it’s looking like he’s destined for the 1-technique tackle spot alongside Henry Melton. McClain has more burst than previously thought and could realistically play the 3-technique spot also, but with so many 3-technique options (plus a proven 3-tech in Melton) the 1 technique DT offers the greatest opportunity.
The 1-technique is a demanding position that doesn’t typically provide ample opportunities to make splash plays, but Marinelli’s 1-Tech isn’t always a typical 1-Tech.
We will look into the specifics of the 1 technique DT next month when we really dig into Marinelli’s defense. For now it’s just good to see some players like McClain are already establishing themselves.
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