NFL Notes: Cowboys' Brooking enjoys “fresh start”

Georgia native feels at home with new team after long Falcons run

After six months with his new team, Keith Brooking no longer feels out of place in silver and blue. Said Brooking, who left the Falcons after 11 years to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, “I like the way the star looks on the side of the helmet.”

The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker from East Coweta High and Georgia Tech spoke with the AJC this past week about a new start in Dallas:

On leaving Atlanta: “It’s a fresh start for me. I think it came at a perfect time for me. ... I don’t want to say I was in a rut, but [there was] just the monotony of the same city, the same team, the same scenery. I think, just to be dead honest with you, I wasn’t completely comfortable and happy with the position [weakside linebacker] I was playing last year. That had something to do with it. I had an opportunity to come into a defense where I had two of my most productive seasons in the NFL with [Cowboys coach] Wade [Phillips, who is a former Falcons defensive coordinator].”

On moving to Dallas: “It’s been a very easy transition. I feel right at home here with the guys on the team, with the city. My wife, my family, they love it here. It’s a temporary thing. That’s the way we’re looking at it and approaching it, but right now, this is something that we feel right at home, having a lot of fun with and enjoying.”

On his new team: “It’s by far the most talented defense I’ve ever played on, not even close. I’m fortunate enough to have a guy lined up beside me on every play right outside of me on every play that I think is the best defensive player in the league in DeMarcus Ware. It’s a defense that I’m very excited to be playing with.”

On the video board — the world’s largest high-definition screen — in the Cowboys’ new stadium: “You walk in, you can’t take your eyes off it. It’s unreal. I can see my nose hairs [on the screen] when I’m out there on the field.”

Stafford ready to start

Former Georgia quarterback and first overall pick Matthew Stafford makes his first career start this afternoon for the Lions, who will be in New Orleans.

Said Stafford this past week, “I feel like I know this offense extremely well. I know the guys in it and how we can make plays. I’m ready to get out there and win some football games.”

The Lions have won only one playoff game since 1957 and went 0-16 last season. Joey Harrington, drafted third overall by Detroit in 2002, lasted four seasons with the Lions. He was recently released by the Saints.

“It was tough in the sense that you’re expected to come in and single-handedly turn around an organization thatís been losing for 40 years,” Harrington said in August. “The first thing they told me was we haven’t had a quarterback since Bobby Layne. That’s a long time. There’s definitely a lot of pressure.”

Layne is the late Hall of Fame quarterback traded after the 1957 season, leading to the infamous “Curse of Bobby Layne.” Interestingly, Stafford attended the same high school as Layne, Highland Park (Texas).