Cowboys' Chidobe Awuzie preparing for life as a 'Swiss army knife'

OXNARD, Calif. -- Any rookie would feel a little overwhelmed in his first NFL training camp. For Chidobe Awuzie, the first few days of Dallas Cowboys camp has him not seeing straight.

"I can dang near go cross-eyed trying to look at all the different positions on the field," said Awuzie, the Cowboys' second-round pick. "I got to look at the weakside corner, the strongside corner, nickel, the Will [weakside linebacker] and then I also got to look at some safety just in case. So, I've really just been trying to get in my playbook and really trying to be available."

Awuzie likes the variety. He knows it will only make him more indispensable because of his versatility.

"You see it from boxing to MMA," Awuzie said. "Like if you're able to kick and do all this other stuff, you're able to do MMA or you could just be singular in boxing. That's kind of where I'm at right now. I'm able to kick. I'm able to punch. I'm able to go on the floor and do this other stuff. Being a versatile player speaks to my ability."

This isn't new for Awuzie. the Colorado product has played cornerback. He has played in the slot. He has played safety. He has played some linebacker in sub packages.

"Right now he's stressed because we're asking him to do four different things," secondary coach Joe Baker said. "So he's got a lot of learning to do, but he's stressed in terms of the information. But he's going to get it. He's got great confidence and he understands it's a process to get there."

It was a process for Byron Jones in 2015. The Cowboys selected him in the first round as a corner, but he ended the season as a starting safety, which is where he starts now. In between, he played the slot in the nickel and dime packages as well.

Since the Cowboys drafted Awuzie, Jones has helped with the learning process. Because the coaches went through the same process with Jones, they are better versed in how to teach the big picture of the defense to a player with so many responsibilities.

"To be honest, that guy, he's bright," Jones said. "There's not much I have to give him so far. He's really adjusting to our playbook very well. It's surprising because it's a lot at him. There's a lot to process. He's understanding the small adjustments that he has to understand."

In the first full-padded practice, Awuzie had an interception on his first one-on-one snap. Later, he earned praise from the coaches with his work on an Ezekiel Elliott run. On Thursday, he added an interception on a deep ball from Kellen Moore. It hasn't all been smooth. Special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia got on Awuzie for not calling out a changed look on a punt. He has been beaten a couple of times for plays as well.

At night, Awuzie is studying everything in the playbook. But if there is a particular point at one position he does not grasp he will spend more time on that spot.

"That's what you've got to be when you play so many positions," Awuzie said. "You've got to be a Swiss army knife. You've got to go out and do it all."