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News: JJT: Ex-Longhorn Thornton on his way up

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by LaTunaNostra, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Ex-Longhorn Thornton on his way up

    09:30 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Jean-Jacques Taylor

    Inside Valley Ranch


    IRVING – For every player on the roster, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has a vision of how he's going to use him.

    Most of the time, that vision comes from an experience he's had with a similar player.

    When Parcells saw former Texas defensive end Kalen Thornton on tape, one player came to mind: nine-time Pro Bowl linebacker Harry Carson of the New York Giants.

    "Very few of the players have gone from down to up successfully," Parcells said, meaning from end to linebacker. "Unfortunately, I had one of the great players in football, Harry Carson, who did that – and I've never forgotten that.

    "I might be a glutton for punishment here in trying to make some of these down linemen linebackers."

    Thornton reminded Parcells of Carson because he had good size for a linebacker – 246 pounds – but not for an NFL defensive end, and because he's intelligent, a prerequisite for making the switch to linebacker.
    That's because defensive linemen rarely have to worry about covering running backs or tight end ends or recognizing pass route combinations.

    "When you try to do that with a player, intelligence is almost imperative," Parcells said. "If you don't have a pretty sharp guy, then he doesn't have as good of a chance to do it. Well, this kid graduated in 3 ½ years. He's pretty sharp."

    Still, Thornton was a long shot to make the team when training camp began.

    But he made few mental errors in training camp, progressed quickly at linebacker and made himself a factor on special teams.

    Two weeks before the preseason ended – the time of year when fringe players really begin to sweat – Parcells told Thornton he had already had earned a roster spot.

    Eventually, Parcells would like to make the 3-4 defense a regular part of the Cowboys' package. To do so, he needs linebackers who can successfully rush the passer.

    Pittsburgh has been doing that for years. Now, New England is doing it on a regular basis.

    "One franchise that deserves a lot of credit for doing that is the Pittsburgh Steelers," Parcells said. "They've done it with [Jason] Gildon and [Joey] Porter and gotten good results."

    Who better than a converted defensive end? He should have pass-rushing tricks that a linebacker wouldn't. Add the fact that Thornton's father, Bruce, played defensive end for the Cowboys from 1979 to '81, and it seemed a natural fit.

    Parcells and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer are going to give Thornton that opportunity.

    Thornton played defensive end in some pass-rushing situations Sunday against Minnesota. Defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who once had 17 sacks, said Thornton has innate pass-rushing skills, like being able to contort his body when he's coming around the corner to get past the offensive tackle.

    "When Coach Parcells mentioned Harry Carson to me, that was a big thing for me because it meant he had a plan for me," Thornton said.

    "I was excited about the move because I always thought my body was better suited for linebacker. I just moved to defensive end because I loved to rush the passer."

    E-mail jjtaylor@dallasnews.com
  2. NOVA 22

    NOVA 22 Member

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    Its a little sad to say, but I'm already feeling like we need this kid. we need him to start getting to the QB, because no one else can. period. we've all said all the right things about Ellis, Glover etc. forever. but these guys just never get there without some real help.

    i know its not fair, and the odds are against him. but thornton could be the difference between the playoffs or another winter in the cowboyszone debating which guy to grab at the 9 spot. (not that i don't love that)

    where's that suggs guy now anyway?
  3. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    I think he's playing for a team so desperate for a corner it brought in Deion. :rolleyes:
  4. Duane

    Duane Active Member

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    LOL. I guess this weekend will show if Cleveland is really a Juggernaut or Baltimore just sucks.
  5. NOVA 22

    NOVA 22 Member

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    that's pretty funny. i actually meant the guy who used to post constantly about drafting suggs instead of newman, but its pretty ironic that the ravens are definitely reaching at corner and we're dying at DE.
  6. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Deacon Jones brags he could still play.

    Wiley, so far, has been a major diappointment. If he doesn't look alive soon, I guess it's the John Abraham Sweepstakes next March.
  7. Tio

    Tio Armchair QB

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    Ahh "that guy" just don't get him started on his circle.
  8. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    i think the CB situation is sorry. but am willing to give the pass rush problems another week or two before i hit panic mode. the d-line had a terrible game but it's still possible that's all it was - ONE sorry game. what if it turns out to be the exception rather than the rule?
  9. Big D

    Big D Well-Known Member

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    It should be that anyway... I would love to have him here.
  10. ddh33

    ddh33 Active Member

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    I really do believe this team is going to need the dimension that Kalen brings. There just isn't a lot of speed that can get to the QB on this D.
  11. Eskimo

    Eskimo Well-Known Member

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    The front 7 is an embarassing combination of old, small and slow. They will not get the job done. Not enough draft picks have been invested here over the years.

    Let's count them:

    elite players: 0

    Pro Bowl players: 1 (Glover -Coakley is no Pro Bowler anymore)

    Good/solid players: 2 (Nguyen, Ellis)

    Avg/below avg players: 4 (Carson, Wiley, Singleton, Coakley)

    That just isn't going to get it done against teams with offensive talent. We stand no chance this year of competing against the big boys. We need a heavy infusion of talent from the draft and FA next offseason.

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