Special Post from MBIIIEffect
If there’s one backup player on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster that has caught my attention over the past two years, it’s been Sam Hurd. He first drew the media spotlight when he found an unlikely mentor in Pro Bowl wide receiver Terrell Owens.
Hurd’s first year with the Cowboys was 2006. This was the year when a tender hamstring kept “the player” out for most of training camp, and T.O. stuck to riding a stationary bike in his helmet and spandex, grinning whenever cameras turned his way, much to the chagrin of then coach Bill Parcells. But after practice, Hurd would run routes and catch balls with Owens, with the vet giving Hurd tips on route-running and other tricks of the trade gathered over his career.
Let’s face it: T.O. is no saint. He must have seen something in Hurd that impressed him enough to make him want to hang around after practices. Soon enough, Hurd got his chance to shine when Terry Glenn joined T.O. on the sideline with injury. After a few days of practice, other Cowboys were taking notice of the 6’2″, 195-pound undrafted receiver from Northern Illinois.
- Former QB Drew Bledsoe: “The guy has been impressive. He’s going up and catching the ball, coming up with big plays. We’ve asked him to play three positions and he played all three in the scrimmage without making any mistakes. That’s pretty rare for a rookie.”
- Former RB Julius Jones: “Sam Hurd is out there making plays. The way he’s playing right now, (defenses) would have to respect him.”
- WR Patrick Crayton: “He is really taking care of his business a whole lot. I think he’s already overcome a lot of those odds.”
- Former coach Bill Parcells: “He is young. He is inexperienced. But he is in very good physical condition. He has a lot of stamina. He’s extremely bright. He knows more than one position already. I think he will be in contention for a roster spot based on what I have seen so far…You can’t help but notice some things he is doing.”
What impressed me about Hurd, apart from his being able to get T.O. to be his mentor, was his desire to impress from the start. He knew that his chances of making the team were slim. But when he caught a break, not only was Hurd’s work on his route running evident, it was obvious that he had been studying his playbook. Hats off to Hurd for seizing the day.
After the camp, Hurd was named to the final 53-man roster, but had a very quiet 2006 season. When Terry Glenn was sidelined for almost all of the 2007, Hurd saw more of the field and ended with 314 yards on 19 receptions with a touchdown. My hopes were up for the guy, especially after he snagged a 50-yard touchdown against the Giants in the first game of the season.
Even though he will be Tony Romo’s third, fourth or fifth option when the Cowboys go three wide (it’s hard to look past T.O., Jason Witten and Marion Barber…and even Patrick Crayton from time to time), keep an eye on Hurd. He’s a hard worker in practice and should put pressure on Patrick Crayton’s second WR spot during training camp coming up in a week and a half. He could prove to be another undrafted gem for the Cowboys should he keep up the hard work.