Chris Covington wouldn’t have guessed Ben Bloom’s first days on a field as the Dallas Cowboys’ linebackers coach came last week at the rookie mini-camp.
"It seems like he’s been doing it for a very long time, to me," said Covington, a sixth-round pick out of Indiana.
"He knows what he’s talking about. He gives great details. He’s on the little things, the small things, and that’s what I like about him."
Bloom, 35, is no stranger around the Cowboys’ facility. He’s been with the organization since 2011, working his way up from defensive quality control coach to assistant linebackers coach to assistant coach/special projects to now linebackers coach.
This latest promotion is a significant step for anybody in the coaching profession. Heck, Bloom’s predecessor, Matt Eberflus, is now the defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts.
And several NFL head coaches spent time as a linebackers coach early in their career, including New England’s Bill Belichick, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel.
"Huge opportunity," Bloom said. "Extremely grateful, thankful and I’m happy to know that the front office and head coach [Jason Garrett] and coordinator [Rod Marinelli] trust me to do this. It gives me a lot of confidence, and I have a lot of confidence going in.
"I’ve been preparing for this role for a long time, and I’m thrilled and excited."
Bloom has worked his way up to this position through the years. He played college football at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and then served as a graduate assistant and defensive line coach at his alma mater from 2005-07.
He spent a year coaching D-line at Harvard in 2008 and then broke into the professional ranks with the Cleveland Browns as an assistant in team operations in 2009. He spent 2010 with the Browns before coming to Dallas, following Rob Ryan.
Ryan served as the Browns' defensive coordinator in 2009-10 and was with the Cowboys from 2011-12.
Bloom mentioned Ryan, as well as others such as Marinelli, Eberflus, Jerome Henderson and Eric Mangini, as coaches who have influenced him in his career.
But Bloom intends to be himself, not mimic anybody, in his new role.
"The first thing I’ve learned is you have to be yourself," Bloom said. "These NFL players, or players in general, they can spot a phony quick, so you’ve got to be true to yourself and your personality.
"I've taken something from all those guys, but at the same time, I know I’ve got to be true to my personality. I’ve got to communicate with the players and just teach them their alignment, their assignment, their key, their technique, how to play the game, how to be successful in this league."
Bloom wasn’t afraid to bark orders at the rookies during the mini-camp and will use the same approach with the veterans.
Sometimes it's necessary, of course. Marinelli is known for his passion and intensity, especially during training camp, when practices are open to the public.
"Sometimes you’ve got to get fiery and motivate, get a little loud," Bloom said. "Coach Marinelli is the best at that. I have a great example of that, but coach Marinelli is also a teacher. There are times when he’s just teaching the game and talking the game, so there’s a time and place for all of that."
Bloom appears to have found a way to connect to his players early on, too. As Covington put it, it seems like he’s been doing it for a while.
Bloom also bonded quickly with first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch during the pre-draft process. Bloom went up to Boise State to work out Vander Esch, and the two were in communication throughout the process.
The ability to connect with players and his track record with the team made it an easier decision for Garrett and the Cowboys to hand the linebacker reins to Bloom.
"Ben has just done an excellent job in any role that we’ve given him since he’s been here,” Garrett said. "He's a really smart guy. He loves football. He works very hard at it. Whatever role he’s been in, he’s contributed to our football team. You’re always looking for guys like that to give them opportunities.
"We did an interview [process for the job], just like we interviewed some of the other guys, but I think deep down we knew he was the guy. He’s just done an excellent job."