If ever there was a rookie who entered the NFL what to expect from Dallas head coach Bill Parcells, it's former Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter.
Carpenter was one of three Ohio State linebackers selected in last weekend's draft; A.J. Hawk went to Green Bay in the first round, while Anthony Schlegel was chosen in the third round by the New York Jets. But it's not just his Buckeye pedigree that helped prepare Carpenter for what awaits him with the Cowboys. His father, Rob, played under Dallas head coach Bill Parcells when Parcells coached the New York Giants.
Carpenter said Saturday that his father told him lots of stories about Parcells, but declined to share them with the throng of gathered media.
"My dad and him had a very special relationship," Carpenter said. "My dad credits a lot of his success to Coach Parcells. There's a lot of mutual respect there."
Carpenter said that despite the fact that he visited Giants' training camp as a child, and the fact that his parents have photos of him running around in a Giants' t-shirt there, he doesn't recall ever talking to Parcells prior to his pre-draft visit.
When asked what his greatest asset as a player is, Carpenter paused for a second before saying "my versatility. Playing on the outside, I can bring a little pass rush, a little coverage, and play physical against the run."
His versatility, Carpenter said, stems from his natural athleticism, the fact that his father also is a coach, and the fact that he has not been locked in at linebacker for his entire football career.
"I played running back in high school, which definitely helps," he said. "I can run a little, and I have a good understanding of what offenses want to do."
His ability to study opponents was bred into him by his father, a maniacal watcher of tape.
"He recorded everything," Carpenter said. "He would tape us playing basketball, playing soccer, swimming .... I was probably the only eight-year-old ever who knew that when you're playing a team that's getting a big pass rush, you run a lot of screens and draws."
As prepared as Carpenter is for the rigors of the NFL, he knows that there are many questions that remain unanswered. At Ohio State, he and Hawk and Schlegel all grew their hair out long, in a tribute to former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. Carpenter said he is well aware that the "initiation" process for NFL rookies sometimes includes a shaved head, and said that he can't guess whether the reason behind his locks will get him a pass on getting shorn.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll see what the veterans do when they get here. I like (the long hair), but it's really hot down here. My dad said he was surprised Coach Parcells didn't say anything about it."
Carpenter: Not the Teacher's Pet
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