ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9: Marcus Spears #96 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Reports that defensive end Marcus Spears missed two of the team's first five sessions of organized team activities seemed, at first, to signal some bitterness on the part of the veteran.
It would have been justified, considering (a) that both of Spears' back-ups--Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher--are being paid more than him; (b) that Spears, after arguably his best season since entering the league in 2005, was given the original round tender offer--the least valuable offer possible; (c) that he, as a first rounder, has little recourse, falling victim to the rules governing the elusive uncapped season--if 2010 was to be played under a salary cap, Spears would have been an unrestricted free agent.
But rather than being bitter, Spears has returned to Valley Ranch in good spirits, with the knowledge that, ultimately, there's nothing he can do about his uncertain future with the team. The two absences, as it turns out, were both excused: Last week, he got the team's permission to attend a graduation in Louisiana; this week, he was called on for jury duty.
"I can't boycott my guys," Spears said. "I can gripe about the situation, but at the end of the day, I pay my bills from this place. That's the attitude I've got to keep.
"I'm here, I'm playing, I'm getting ready for the season like I always have, that's my approach. I'm coming to work, trying to continue to get better. At the end of the day, this is how I feed my family, so whether it be here or somewhere else, I've got to get better at this game."
Unlike disgruntled receiver Patrick Crayton, who has not yet reported to Valley Ranch this offseason as he seeks a trade, Spears is making his case on the practice field, in full view of coaches. Whether that will change any minds in the front office, no one can know; but, as Wade Phillips pointed out earlier this week, it couldn't hurt.
"It helps that he's out here," said Phillips. "We've identified some things technique-wise that he can do better and he's been working on those things. I think we can get him better, and he's the type of guy that'll work at it. I think that helps both of us, short-term and long-term -- and business-wise. The better player you are, the better you end up business-wise."
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