- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS – As a former offensive lineman, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones knows the offensive line has to play better in 2013 for his team to win more games.
Where the improvement comes from is up for debate.
On Saturday Jones mentioned the possibility of getting better through free agency and the draft along the line but he was not ready to dismiss in-house improvement either.
“We do need to have improvement there, but I think we can get that offensive line with some of the stuff we’re going to do with our offense and coaching,” Jones said. “I think we can get that offensive line with a better report card here this time next year.”
Left tackle Tyron Smith is Jones’ only sure bet, but he liked what he saw at the end of the year from Doug Free and Jermey Parnell. Jones acknowledged the Cowboys “need more,” from free-agent pickups Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in 2013, and he could see center Phil Costa as the starter “for several years.”
“Now does that make you sleep at night because you know you need depth? We might be talking about your depth there when I’m really alluding two five or six guys, which could be your starters,” Jones said. “I think we’ve got a chance to have a plus from a couple of these young guys, and we’re very likely, through a combination of free agency or this draft to get serious about another guard-center type there.”
Bernadeau started two games at center in 2012 when Ryan Cook was out with a knee injury and Costa was out with an ankle injury that led to him being placed on injured reserve. Costa had surgery and is a restricted free agent. Cook is also signed through 2013.
“A player could get us in better shape than a player ought to relative to what our offensive line is right here,” Jones said. “But again Bill Callahan, I agree with him when he saw more positive and on the come as the year went on as he instituted his coaching. It did make a change and he did do it differently. There was an adjustment.”