Growing pains expected for young OL vs. Jets

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
9:27
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Right tackle Tyron Smith is a 20-year-old rookie, but he had a pretty savvy answer when asked Monday if he was ready for his NFL debut.

“I’m still getting ready,” the No. 9 overall pick said, emphasizing the importance of a week of preparation.

Smith will be joined by left guard Bill Nagy, a seventh-round pick, as the first pair of rookie offensive linemen to start a season opener together for the Cowboys. The hope is that they’ll be joined by second-year center Phil Costa, who has a grand total of one NFL start at guard under his belt and is recovering from a sprained knee.

The young offensive linemen don’t exactly get to ease into their tenures as starters. Not with the Cowboys opening against Rex Ryan’s Jets, who had the NFL’s third-ranked defense last season.

Some mistakes are expected, but the Cowboys believe their offensive line will be better than it was a year ago, when recently released greybeards Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode were starters on the decline.

“We are hopeful and optimistic that those guys will respond the way they’ve responded up this point,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They’re certainly going to make a lot of mistakes. They’re going to have a lot of growing pains. Hopefully we can smooth those things out and move forward and have some success with them.”

The Cowboys dealt with grown pains on the line a year ago, which just get worse. At least growing pains are part of progressing.

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