- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys enjoy having a veteran coaching staff, and almost at the top of that is defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The veteran coach develops close relationships with the defensive players, particularly the linemen.
Last season, Marinelli placed notes in the lockers of his starting defensive linemen and gave them nicknames which encourage them to get sacks.
Jason Hatcher was called "Big Daddy," DeMarcus Ware was "Long Arms," George Selvie the "Bricklayer," and Nick Hayden was the "Golden Cock" based on what he described concerning his positioning on the defensive line.
Only Selvie and Hayden remain, with Hatcher and Ware having left the team during the free-agency period.
Newly acquired defensive tackle Henry Melton said one of the big reasons why he's with the Cowboys is Marinelli. Melton said the veteran coach cares about his players on and off the field and is a father figure to some.
"I'm excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form," Melton said after he signed with the Cowboys. "It's a great group of guys there and I've talked to them the last few days."
Former linebacker Ernie Sims praised Marinelli for being a positive influence in his life.
It's something coach Jason Garrett admires.
"I think that has a lot to do with his ability to coach these guys as well as he does," he said. "He develops relationships with them. It’s not easy when you play for Rod Marinelli. It’s a hard days worth in a really good way. But I think when you’re asking guys to do a lot and demanding that guys do a lot, developing that relationship with them is an important piece to that. They understand that what you’re asking them to do is in their best interest and ultimately in the team’s best interest. Again, he has a great track record of guys at a lot of different levels, getting the most out of them. I think that has a lot to do with it."