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New Cowboys DB Malik Hooker: 'I've Got Nothing To Prove'

Malik Hooker's self-scouting report: 'A game-changer and an athletic ballhawk. That's what I've been since I came' into the NFL.

OXNARD, Calif. - Malik Hooker's mouth and maybe his head says, "I really don’t got nothing to prove.''

Malik Hooker's body - and body of work - says something else entirely.

Hooker was in his Dallas Cowboys uniform on Wednesday here at training camp in Oxnard, looking to rebuild a career that began with him as the 15th-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft but has been so-often derailed by injuries. He started his Colts career with a hernia, a torn labrum, a groin pull, a shoulder problem, and a torn.

Incredibly, he was saddled with all of that in just his rookie season.

"Hard to stay healthy,'' said Hooker, just 25. "It was frustrating for me at first but now (I know) it comes with the game. Every football player that plays the game ... they get something back whether it’s a torn labrum whatever the case may be. 

"For me, it’s not really frustrating now. It’s just about trusting it and trusting the process for me.''

Now the "trust'' - for Hooker and for the Cowboys - is about a 2020 Achilles injury that the star-when-healthy safety at one point says, "I'm good to go now.'' ... but in another moment in his Wednesday visit with the media adds, "I haven’t played football in a year ... ain't in no rush for me to get back to this point.''

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The Cowboys are short-handed on defense and are 3.5-point underdogs in the game, which is set to kick off at 3:25 p.m. CT from L.A.’s SoFi Stadium.

And then a frank concession: "It's an ongoing process. There are some weeks when I'll do drills and I'll feel great. I feel (great) strength-wise.''

Which logical means there have been other weeks when the feeling is something less than great.

Dallas' hurry here is about a safety group that is lacking. Hooker, assuming he gets on the field in the coming days, will likely compete with fellow vet free agent Damontae Kazee (also coming off an Achilles problem) to be the free safety alongside strong safety Donovan Wilson. There is some interchangeability between the two spots, but Hooker has done his most outstanding work at free.

His self-scouting report: "A game-changer and an athletic ballhawk. That's what I've been since I came out. ...Also vocally I'm a leader.''

Dallas' defense has lacked all of that. Hooker can fix some of it.

"I feel like this is the perfect place for me for my decision,'' Hooker says. "I felt like this is where home was at. ... It’s just about getting out there and having fun and playing the game. Anybody that watched me play, anytime I played and I was healthy, I made an impact on the games I played. 

"For me,'' Hooker insists, "it ain't about what I got to prove. It’s about me staying available and stay healthy at this point.''