Linebacker Durant just trying fit in with Cowboys

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Cowboys’ upcoming key dates Today-Thursday: Mandatory minicamp July 19: Report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif. July 21: First training camp practice Aug. 4: Hall of Fame Game vs. Dolphins, Canton, Ohio Aug. 16: Break training camp Sept. 8: Regular-season opener vs. Giants, Cowboys Stadium

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Free agent linebacker Justin Durant is still learning the Dallas Cowboys’ scheme and his new teammates.

He has yet to earn a starting job, though he is a favorite to line up next to middle linebacker Sean Lee at strongside linebacker.

However, Durant has already achieved top ranking as the best Twitter follow on the team.

His @JDurant52 might not be as popular as @dezbryant or @demarcusware, but no one interacts with fans more or has more interesting things to say than Durant.

“Twitter is just an outlet to let people know who I am as a person, to see different sides,” Durant said. “Everybody just doesn’t want to know who you are as a football player. It’s 2013. They want to know who you are, what you like, what kind of music you like. I play into it, joke around with the people and try to interact as much as I can.”

A recent sample of his tweets included talk about the NBA Finals, sleeping on 1,000 thread-count sheets, sampling music and movies.

Durant doesn’t know if his new teammates fully understand his personality yet. But he said he is no different in person than he is on Twitter.

“I’m just going to be myself, real free with everything,” Durant said. “I’m a carefree person. I like to joke and have fun. But when it comes to the football stuff, I’m serious.”

The six-year veteran, who announced his own signing on Twitter, came to the Cowboys after stints in Jacksonville and Detroit as insurance at strongside linebacker in the 4-3 defense with former linebacker DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer moving to defensive end.

Lee is already penciled in at middle linebacker and Bruce Carter is set for weakside linebacker.

Durant had 103 tackles in 14 games with the Lions last year and believes he will be a good fit with the Cowboys.

“I’m just trying to contribute,” Durant said. “Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to start. I’m getting comfortable with the scheme.”

After missing much of the organized team activities with a tweaked hamstring, Durant will be available for the mandatory minicamp this week.

“It’s tough to sit on the sideline to watch your teammates,” Durant said. “I have been back out there the last week. The more reps you get, the better. It feels good to be out there.”

In Durant, the Cowboys are not only getting a veteran willing to learn on the field but also one who has seemingly learned from past mistakes off the field.

Durant was arrested twice for alcohol-related incidents — a DUI in college at Hampton in 2006 and an open-container violation as a rookie with the Jaguars in 2007.

He has not had a legal issue since.

Durant, who has endowed an athletic scholarship at Hampton, credits his mother for helping him get his priorities straight.

“I wasn’t like that when I first got in the league,” Durant said. “I was young and all about myself. She brought me back to what she raised me to be. She is real big in the community. She loves to help people out. I’m trying to do the same.”

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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