Chaz Green is fighting for his football life going into this season, and knows he has to prove himself to make the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster.
Green faces an uphill battle, too, because nobody is going to forget his disastrous performance in Atlanta last November. Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn burned Green on four of his six sacks that day.
Green, who is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract, admitted it’s been difficult to move past during Cowboys’ minicamp last week.
"Oh, for sure, it's been real tough to get over, man," Green said. "I'd by lying if I’d sit here and said it wasn’t. As a competitor, it’s tough, but it’s something that I feel like I go off on. I always keep it in the back of my head when I go out to work each and every day.
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"I want to put that behind me and not have it happen again."
So what’s Green’s self-assessment when he watches film of that game?
"When I watched it, I knew a lot of it was self-inflicted. That's what's so bad about it," Green said. "That's no disrespect to who I was going against. I just know my capabilities and I know I could’ve done better. I’m trying to work on those things and make sure that’s something I don’t go back to."
Is there anything in particular?
"Footwork. Balance," he said. "On my left side, just really having my feet underneath me and having my hands in the right spot. But making sure I have good balance between my post leg and kick leg is the main thing."
For Green, it’s an outing that will be associated with him throughout his career. The Cowboys lost that day, 27-7, the beginning of a three-game skid that went down as the worst offensive stretch in franchise history.
Most thought that game would be remembered for being the Cowboys’ first with Ezekiel Elliott suspended. But left tackle Tyron Smith being sidelined with an injury proved to be the bigger blow.
Green had held his own as Smith’s replacement in two games in 2016, but simply was overmatched against Clayborn.
"That's life. You're always judged against your last performance," Green said. "I don't need sympathy, man. This game isn’t based on sympathy, so that’s the last thing I’m looking for. I own up to that, you know what I mean, I'm trying to move past that and grow.
"But the last thing I’m looking for is sympathy because my parents and how my dad raised me is much more tougher than that."
Now, Green finds himself fighting just to keep his job. He's spent time this offseason working at right guard when Zack Martin held out for a new contract, and also at right tackle.
Green opened the 2017 season as the Cowboys' starting left guard, but was eventually replaced by Jonathan Cooper. Some believe moving Green between positions has done him a disservice, but Green brushes that off.
"I try to take it to my advantage because I want to just perfect these positions cause that way it'll give me more value, more flexibility," Green said. "I'm just always trying to hone in each spot so that way I have no position I like more than the other. Everything feels just the same, that’s what I’m trying to get to right now."
Green hopes that’s enough to land him a roster spot for at least another season. He is well aware of his status, going into the final year of a rookie contract that is set to pay him a base salary of $721,150.
It's a crowded offensive line room, too, after the Cowboys drafted plug-and-play left guard Connor Williams in the second round and signed free agents such as Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin in the offseason.
"It’s a big year for me. I’m trying to fight," Green said. "I'm trying to show them that I made my improvements and I’m willing to put it all on the line for my team. Just show that, not say that, show that with my play."