Sports Outside the Beltway

Marcus Spears In Shape, Ready for Fresh Start

Mac Engel reports that Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears has put himself through grueling workouts and lost weight this offseason. And he’s become the latest Cowboy to say he’s glad for a change in the coaching staff.

After spending the off-season pondering how his football life will be different without coach Bill Parcells, who drafted him and grilled him, Spears is ready for training camp to start. “It’s uncontrollable,” Spears said Wednesday during an appearance at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children where he signed autographs for patients. “I can’t wait.”

Spears would not go so far as to agree with teammate Patrick Crayton that the Cowboys are better off without Parcells. But Spears’ relationship with the former coach strained in the final two months of the season, and he eagerly awaits a new start with Wade Phillips.

Parcells leaned on Spears for more production. The former first-round pick from LSU wasn’t bothered until the coach essentially said late in the 2006 season that his playing time might be taken away. “When you go and do that to the media and you have no idea it’s coming… I lost a little respect for him that way,” Spears said.

Spears wants everyone to know he is glad he had the experience of playing for Parcells. And that he doesn’t dislike him as a person. He does, however, admit that playing football under Parcells was what he called “a grind.”

When Phillips told his players to invite their families to Valley Ranch, the gesture and ensuing activity were greatly appreciated. “When Wade did that, it meant a lot to a lot of players,” said Spears, whose foundation works with kids in Dallas and Baton Rouge. “There hadn’t been that connection before.”

And clearly he’s thrilled about the prospects of playing under Phillips, and specifically his 3-4 defense. “This is what I was used to, and this is getting back to what made me successful,” Spears said.

Let’s hope Spears makes the move to become stand-out player we all expected he would be when he was picked in the first round. We’ll soon see if Parcells’ conservative play-calling and tough guy approach was the problem or whether it was the groceries that he bought (i.e., the players) that were they problem.

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