GLENDALE, Ariz. – Every game of the preseason has become a statement game for Cowboys linebacker Brandon Magee.
“Every time I get out there, whether it’s against the Dolphins, the Raiders or the Cardinals in my home, it’s like, ‘Whatchy’all think now?'” said Magee, who had a team-high six tackles despite the Cardinals’ 12-7 win over the Cowboys on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. “I’m going to make them regret not getting me, because they all saw me play. They had their chance.”
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The former Arizona State standout went undrafted in April, a surprise to many who watched him lead the Sun Devils in tackles last season (113) while serving as the defense’s voice and spiritual leader.
Magee signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent, and after starting as the third-string weakside linebacker in spring workouts, he moved to middle linebacker in OTAs and is now Sean Lee’s primary backup.
“He’s a little bit of an undersized guy,” coach Jason Garrett told ESPN. “He doesn’t have great timed speed. But when you watch him play in college, he makes a lot of plays. He’s instinctive, he sees the ball, he has a good nose for the ball and is around it a lot.”
Magee said the switch hasn’t come without hiccups.
“I had to make a lot of adjustments,” he said. “You have to set the front, and if you set the front wrong you’re messing up the D-line, messing up the secondary, messing up the linebackers, and everybody’s mad at you.
“You can line up on the strong side or the weak side with different gaps, different motions. When I first moved there, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ But now I’m settled down and I’m making plays.”
Although he appears to have won a roster spot with his intelligence and versatility — he’ll also play special teams and be an option at weakside linebacker — Magee isn’t about to get comfortable. He knows teams passed on him because of his size (5-11, 224) and speed, but he believes he has something teams didn’t account for.
“If you read the keys fast, you play fast. If you’re fast but read slow, you can’t do nothing,” he said. “I know what type of player I am. I learn fast and I study hard. That’s what I’m going to keep doing.”