He spent his time getting personal tutelage from Hall of Famer Charles Haley. Charlton and Haley worked on fundamental things such as footwork, hand placement and turning the corner.
Charlton is soaking in whatever advice he can get as he has yet to record a sack in six games. He is the only defensive linemen drafted in this year’s first round who doesn’t have a sack.
“I’m not used to waiting this long to get a sack, especially last year when I had 10 sacks in 10 games,” said Charlton, who actually had 10 sacks in 11 games as a senior at Michigan.
“But I’ve been working hard these last couple of weeks. Last week, I got close. I’ve been working hard, trying to refine my technique. I’m getting there. Hopefully, it comes. Once I get one, hopefully they start coming in bunches.”
The Cowboys aren’t giving up on Charlton. He had a season-high 37 defensive snaps last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers after getting eight the previous game against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys play at Washington Sunday.
Against the 49ers, Charlton was credited by the coaches with two quarterback pressures and a pass breakup.
“It’s not giant steps, it’s baby steps right now,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “I’m seeing some baby steps.”
Marinelli and the Cowboys feel that Charlton will only get better with more playing time. Charlton agrees, saying he needs more snaps to get into a rhythm.
The Cowboys showed their confidence in him against San Francisco by using him and making Benson Mayowa and Damontre Moore inactive for the game. The team released Moore earlier this week.
For Charlton, though, it’s about making the most of his opportunity going forward. It’s about turning those pressures into sacks.
And there’s no better mentor to get things going than Haley, who had 100.5 sacks in his 13-year Hall of Fame career.
Haley has helped groom several Cowboys’ defensive linemen, including DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence, who already has a career-high 9.5 sacks this season, believes Haley is the type of person who could jump-start Charlton.
“That’s what he needs. He needs tough love,” Lawrence said. “Charles will speak some real [stuff], but it takes time. He’s aggressive on you.”
Said Charlton: “It’s always good to learn from a Hall of Famer. I’m learning new tricks of the trade. Charles comes in and teaches what he knows and what worked for him.”
Anything can help at this point. Most important, Charlton has remained positive despite his lack of production to this point. He sees it coming together sooner than later.
So do his teammates.
“It’s hard, man, as a rookie coming into this league,” Lawrence said. “But I feel like he’s going to step up and get his first sack this year.”
Added tight end Jason Witten, “Anytime you’re picked as a No. 1 pick, there’s such high expectations. Taco is a wonderful guy. He’s a great teammate. He works hard. Certainly has size and ability that you see. I go against him all of training camp and then into the first few weeks, he’s a talented guy.
“So many times we just look at the bottom line statistic and we forget the development of a player. I think he’s a guy that we’re really lucky to have with his ability and what he brings and what his upside is moving forward.”
There will be no quick return for injured kicker Dan Bailey.
The Cowboys expect Bailey, who has a groin injury, to be sidelined “four weeks or more,” according to vice president Stephen Jones.
It was known that Bailey would miss Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins and possibly next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is why the Cowboys signed veteran kicker Mike Nugent on Tuesday and cut defensive end Damontre Moore.
But is looks like Nugent will be here for the long haul as the club will continue to carry two kickers on the active roster.
There is a chance, according to Jones, that even if Bailey is ready, the Cowboys will use Nugent for long field goals and kickoffs and Bailey for the shorter ones.
Cowboys at Redskins
3:25 p.m. Sunday, KDFW/4