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Friday, March 21, 2014
Henry Melton must block out distractions

By Calvin Watkins

There wasn't a big news conference in the team meeting room with cameramen and reporters settling into seats about to ask questions.

Nothing was inside one of the many plazas at AT&T Stadium announcing something big.

Melton
The signing of Henry Melton, to a one-year contract, with a team-option for three more seasons, was big for the Dallas Cowboys.

The local kid comes home.

The kid from Grapevine High, who was a running back at the University of Texas, is playing for the local pro team in town.

Melton's signing didn't get the star treatment from the organization in terms of a news conference (reporters had a conference call), but there were photos of Melton smiling as he posed for pictures with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and a team official signing his contract on the team website.

Some Cowboys' fans were yearning for this team to do something in free agency after watching star defensive end DeMarcus Ware get cut and then sign a contract 24 hours later with Denver. The fans saw defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, off a Pro Bowl season, visit Seattle and eventually sign with division rival Washington.

Now, the fans were looking for something to shout about.

Enter Melton, who agreed to an incentive-laden deal this week to become the pass rushing defensive tackle that the Cowboys lost in Hatcher.

Melton comes home to become the savior for a defense that was terrible last season.

Home.

And with that there could be distractions.

"I've been in the NFL long enough," Melton said during that conference call on Wednesday. "I have a small group of people that I trust and go with and they are good people and I associate with good people."

Later, Melton said of his friends, "they don't have a negative influence on me."

Yet, here is Melton defending himself in a lawsuit by a bar owner in Grapevine, Texas alleging Melton bit him during a fight.

Melton has denied any wrongdoing and said he'll be vindicated.

"Yes, it is what it is," Melton said regarding the lawsuit. "Everyone sees it as (a money grab), no truth on what's been reported off the papers with no investigation into what really happened. We're going to move on from it and whatever happens, happens and the truth will come out eventually."

The fight occurred when Melton was recovering from knee surgery last December. Bar fights happen more often than we know, it's just when a scrap breaks out with an NFL player, it usually elevates from the police blotter to national news.

Melton seems smart enough to know he can't get into any more trouble around here given the standards being set.

The Cowboys and Melton need each other.

The local kid, who wasn't a Cowboys' fan growing up, but was a Ray Crockett fan because his famous relative played for three NFL teams, winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.

Melton is coming off a knee injury and has to prove he'll come back after participating in just three games for the Chicago Bears last season.

Melton said he's trying to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2012, hence why Marinelli is like Yoda to him. Marinelli was the Bears' defensive coordinator when Melton reached Pro Bowl heights.

The Cowboys and Melton need for that to happen again.

So any distractions of the local kid coming home must end.

"That's what the position demands," Melton said. "It doesn't matter I was part of a great defense (in Chicago) and I had a lot of hall of famers, future hall of famers on my team. But I still have a bullseye playing that position. For the defense to be successful, the three technique, has to do his job and be very disruptive."