Glover Settling In Nicely with New Role

IRVING, TX - When Bill Parcells announced at the beginning of the summer that the Cowboys would switch to a 3-4 alignment for its primary defense, the veteran players who had played for years in the Cowboys' traditional 4-3 defense faced a bigger adjustment than the rookies who had so much to learn anyway.

Perhaps no player faced a bigger adjustment with the defensive shift than DT La'Roi Glover. Considered undersized, Glover excelled in the 4-3 by utilizing his quickness to slice through opposing offensive lines to pressure the quarterback and tackle running backs. But in the 3-4, defensive tackles become nosetackles, usually lining up directly over the center. In the 3-4, the prototypical nosetackle is substantially larger … like free agent signee Jason Ferguson, who carries 20 more pounds in his powerful frame.

When Ferguson -- another former "Parcells guy" from their days together with the New York Jets -- came aboard, many assumed Glover would be slowly removed from the Cowboys' defensive plans. That's not the case. Glover is expected to start in the middle against the Chargers Sunday, although Ferguson also should get ample playing time, according to Parcells.

At the time the shift in philosophy was announced, Glover was unsure about the adjustment that was made. Now, he said, he finds himself fitting in with the Cowboys' new defensive look.

"I feel pretty comfortable in this defense now," Glover said. "I'm starting to make more plays as I understand the defense."

The Chargers, he said, have a solid offensive line, but the strength of the Bolts' blockers goes further than the sheer bulk of the group, which averages about 324 pounds per man.

"They're big, but more than that, they're really scrappy, really aggressive," Glover said. "They're a bunch of tough guys most people have never heard of, but they're a tough bunch.

One player with whom Glover (and Ferguson) will have frequent encounters Sunday is San Diego LG Toniu Fonoti, whose 6-4, 350-pound frame makes him one of the largest offensive linemen in the league. His 350 pounds actually represent a marked reduction in size, who reportedly ballooned up to 380 or more last season, earning the reputation of being a lazy player. Glover said that watching Fonoti on film does not reveal laziness.

"I don't see that at all," Glover said. "He's a huge dude, and I just see him rolling people up, especially on the run. If he gets his hands on you, you're in trouble."

Of course, Fonoti is not the focal point of the defensive game plan against the Chargers. With all due respect to QB Drew Brees, who had a terrific season in 2004, the man who makes the San Diego offense go is RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Glover said it doesn't matter whether he or Ferguson is in the middle of the Dallas defensive line when it comes to altering Tomlinson's effectiveness.

"He's an incredible runner," Glover said. "We have to make sure to get a lot of hats around him and really swarm him. We'll see how it comes out Sunday."

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