Cowboys sign top pick Spencer, one pick still unsigned

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Sitting and waiting, studying their playbooks and wondering what they were missing, Anthony Spencer and James Marten were miserable being away from the Dallas Cowboys for the first day and a half of training camp.

So on Thursday afternoon, by the end of the third practice of camp, the Cowboys' top two draft picks were in uniform and on the field of the Alamodome sweating alongside their new teammates. Spencer, the 26th overall pick, signed a $9 million, five-year contract and Marten, a third-rounder, got a four-year deal.

Spencer sounded happier about being in pads than about his new financial status.

"I don't know what $6 million feels like," said Spencer, who is guaranteed that much. "I'm just happy to be here to play football."

Stephen Jones, the team executive who handles negotiations, said the team's background with both players' agents helped speed things up.

"We were able to do some things to help one another and get this done," Jones said. "It's much better for the players to be in here practicing and getting better than at home waiting on something that's probably not going to make much of a difference no matter how long they sit."

Spencer began the day in Fort Wayne, Ind., but flew to San Antonio in time to work with the first team at outside linebacker. He's in the spot opposite DeMarcus Ware, filling in for the injured Greg Ellis.

Ellis tore an Achilles' tendon in November and the Cowboys' pass rush became almost nonexistent without someone to keep teams from double-teaming Ware. Ellis tried practicing Wednesday, but felt pain. He's been diagnosed with bursitis after an MRI showed no damage.

Like Ware two years ago, Spencer is a college defensive end being converted to an outside linebacker. He had 10 1/2 sacks as a senior at Purdue and had 21 in his four-year career. He began the conversion in minicamp, getting a crash course because of Ellis' absence.

"Working through minicamp with the first team was a big adjustment for me because everything moved so fast," Spencer said. "Everyone was expected to know what they were supposed to do, so I think that helped me a lot for this point."

He said he already thinks of himself as a linebacker, but admits there are some old defensive end habits he has to break.

"It's still a work in process," he said. "The more I'm out here, the more I do stuff, the easier it becomes for me."

Marten, from Boston College, waited out his negotiations at his home in Irving, which has a sofa but no television. He'd even stopped the newspaper delivery because he was expecting to be in San Antonio.

"There was nothing there - just me," he said. "The only person I know in Texas is me. So I just sat there, looked over my playbook all day, ran a little bit, did push-ups, sit-ups and stretched."

Once he arrived, he worked at tackle with the second string. Starters Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo are on the physically-unable-to-perform list, so he has a chance to move quickly up the depth chart.

Quarterback Matt Baker, who spent all last year on the practice squad, was cut to make room for the signees.

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