Stephen Paea is going through a seamless transition with the Dallas Cowboys. Much of Paea’s easy shift to a new club is due to a familiar face — Rod Marinelli.
Marinelli coached the defensive tackle when they were both members of the Chicago Bears. The two split when Marinelli joined the Cowboys in 2013. Paea left Chicago a season later and joined the Washington Redskins and then the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
This year the two are reunited and Marinelli is excited about what the veteran brings to the Cowboys’ defensive line.
“Oh boy, he’s explosive,” Marinelli said, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. “You feel him. You feel him. He can play the nose and the under tackle. When we were in Chicago we drafted him for the system, and he’s an explosive guy. He’s tough as all get out. So I like him. He’d been two-gapping. There’s different ways, but he’s not a two-gap tackle. I mean, he can do it but he’s not going to show like he shows in this system. We need that upfield pressure from him. He’s a veteran in the system and his motor is off the charts.”
Paea also shares the same joy. In Washington and Cleveland the defensive tackle played in a 3-4 defense not suited for his skill set. In Dallas under Marinelli defense he’s back to the 3-technique.
“It’s a blessing coming back to the system I know,” Paea said, per ESPN’s Archer. “I’m more comfortable with it and the guys around it, as you can tell, there’s not too many big, big guys. Just athletic. Just get off the ball and go. That’s right in my nature.”
Paea is competing with Cedric Thornton for the Cowboys’ interior lineman spot. He is expected to see plenty of time regardless if he’s a starter or No. 2 on the depth chart.