It didn’t take long for Anthony Hitchens to feel the pressure in being a Dallas Cowboy. Immediately after being drafted in the fourth round of this May’s NFL Draft, draftniks began labeling the pick as reach. Hitchens was rated as a sixth or seventh round pick by many so-called draft gurus. They called him a backup at best.
With Hitchens pegged to play MIKE LB behind Sean Lee, he really was just a backup. But that all changed on that first practice where Lee was lost for the season and Hitchens had to step in as the starter.
Things were uncomfortable there for a while. Hitchens was slow, lost, and a little overwhelmed. Justin Durant even stepped in to take over the #1 spot at MIKE. Hitchens was at a turning point very quickly in his career.
Then things slowed down. Hitchens hit the books and soaked in all he could. As he tells dallascowboys.com,
“I’m just trying to learn the playbook and get a feel for stuff,” said Hitch to dallascowboys.com. “I’m a lot better since day one obviously.
In Rod Marinelli’s defense the MIKE LB plays an important role but the true playmaker of the LB corps is the WILL LB. Current WILL, Bruce Carter, has been embedded in Marinelli’s doghouse since last season. Carter possesses top athletic ability but often plays lost and unconfident.
Now Hitchens is going to work at WILL also. Hitch is being given every opportunity to win a starting role on this Cowboys defense and prove his detractors wrong. The Marinelli defense may be new to him but the WILL LB isn’t since that’s the spot Hitchens primarily played in Iowa.
“I’m picking up everything pretty fast” said Hitchens. “It’s coming fast so I’m ready for the challenge.”
Thanks to dallascowboys.com for the quotes. Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email SportDFW at [email protected] and you may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Don’t forget to include your first name.