Newly signed Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Cedric Thornton doesn’t know exactly what position he will play on defense.
If he does, he’s not saying — though he has been pegged as the starter at nose tackle to replace Nick Hayden.
What he does know is he plans on making an impact no matter where he lines up.
Thornton addressed the topic during an appearance at the Ronald McDonald House, along with several Cowboys teammates and WWE Superstars in advance of Wrestlemania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
“I have played nose tackle before. We will see. I have played defensive end and inside in two of the last three years. It’s all about defeating the man in front of you in the trenches,” he said. “Wherever they line me up, I will be effective.”
But Thornton, 27, has no doubts about his loyalty after playing the past five years with the Philadelphia Eagles and now finding himself on the other side of the rivalry.
Thornton said it’s a business and he did the best thing for his family and that’s all the matters.
“All the important stuff is I’m here and I used to be there,” Thornton said. “The Dallas and Philadelphia rivalry still exists. I’m just on the other side. We are going to wreak havoc on this season and make sure we win the division and they don’t.”
Thornton said he already feels at home in the locker room, thanks to a group of former rivals turned new teammates who have welcomed him with open arms.
“I have known these guys,” Thornton said. “I have played against these guys. Doug Free, Jason Witten, Zack Martin. They have accepted me in. I’m happy to be here. I have been working with these guys for a few weeks. They are treating me pretty good. They are already treating me like a brother. I’m excited to be here.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he has always admired Thornton’s versatility to play a number of positions on the defensive line.
“Again, we’ve been going against Cedric and that defensive line in Philadelphia for a few years now and he’s just a good football player,” Garrett said recently. “He’s versatile. You see him align in different spots on their defensive line. He plays the right way, he’s productive, he’s active, he’s physical and again we’ve had a chance to go against him a couple times a year so we know him well and we’re lucky to have him on our side.”
Garrett also refused to pin a certain position on Thornton, though he acknowledged he will be used at defensive tackle
“I don’t want to make that determination right now,” Garrett said. “We do believe Cedric can play there if he needs to. We definitely see him as an interior player, but again in their scheme he’s played all along their defensive line.
“You see him play as a zero nose, you see him play as a shade nose, you see him play as a three, you see him play as an end in their 3-4 alignment. He’s been a guy who has a number of different things.
“They’ve had a couple different schemes since he’s been there so you’ve see him align along that defensive line and have different roles. Again, excited to have him here. He plays the right way. He’s the right kind of guy so we think he can help our team.”