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Urlacher not in Cowboys' plans

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 03 2014 10:06:50 AM CDT
Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, 2011

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

IRVING, Texas -

Forget about the Dallas Cowboys being interested in future Hall of Fame Brian Urlacher as a possible replacement for Sean Lee at middle linebacker.

That is not the plan.

The team spent the bulk of the offseason trying to get younger and healthier. It makes no sense to pursue a 36-year old linebacker who sat out last season because of a lack of interest.

Sure Urlacher is familiar with the defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme. But look for the Cowboys to focus on in-house candidates to play middle linebacker right now.

And the most intriguing option at the moment is another of Marinelli's disciple, Justin Durant from their days together in Detroit.

It was rookie fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens who got the first crack at middle linebacker when Lee went down last week. But this week, Durant trotted out the starters.

He sat out last week with a hamstring injury.

"We're going to have a chance to take a look at him there," Marinelli said. "He's a heck of a veteran. He played there some last year. We'll take a good look at him."

Durant is an intriguing option for the Cowboys because he is the most experienced linebacker on the team.

Still it's another change for Durant, who came to the Cowboys as a free agent last year to start at strong side linebacker but missed 10 games because of groin and hamstring injury. He was moved to the weak side spot where he was expected to compete with the disappointing Bruce Carter for the starting role.

But when Lee went down, coach Jason Garrett said he was best option to compete with Hitchens and second year man DeVonte Holloman in the middle.

Durant's 89 career games and 74 starts are more than any of the linebackers on the team combined. So whether he wins the starting job or not, the Cowboys are counting on him to help replace Lee as a leader in the locker room.

"He is an experienced linebacker who has played in this scheme," Garrett said. "He has played different spots in this scheme. If you look at his tape from last year we liked what we saw from Durant. One of the issues with him is that he was banged up a little bit. But then you got back to what his reel looked like, just watch the Justin Durant plays, we feel pretty good about it. He runs to the football. He made a lot of plays for us. We got to keep him healthy."