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Thursday, January 19, 2012
Bill Callahan has mixed young, old lines

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who will be introduced to the media today with secondary coach Jerome Henderson, is coming into something of an unknown situation with the state of the Cowboys’ line.

He knows Doug Free and Tyron Smith will be parts of the five-man operation, but will Free and Smith flip sides from where they were in 2011? Right guard Kyle Kosier ended the season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee. Phil Costa started every game at center, but is he a long-term answer? The left guard spot is open for competition with Bill Nagy coming back from ankle surgery and Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery set for free agency.

In 2008 Callahan came aboard a New York Jets ship that went 4-12 the previous year with a rookie left tackle in D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center in Nick Mangold.

In free agency the Jets added the NFL’s best guard in Alan Faneca, signing him away with a five-year, $40 million contract that included $21 million in guarantees. They signed Damien Woody to play right tackle, paying him $11 million in guarantees as part of a five-year, $25 million deal to get out of Detroit.

“Those young guys had to grow up in a hurry and now those guys, Mangold and Ferg, are two of the best offensive lineman in football,” Woody said. “A lot of that has to do with Coach Callahan doing that extra work. He’s going to work those guys before practice, during practice, after practice and all that hard work paid off for a couple of years. Our offensive line was probably considered one of the best in the league. I think he’s going to have the same effect in Dallas.”

While the Jets went with free agents early, they mixed in younger players, such as Matt Slauson, and took Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the 2010 draft.

In Oakland, he made two changes on the offensive line and the team went from 4-12 to 8-8, mixing in younger linemen like Mo Collins, Barry Sims and Matt Stinchcomb.

The Cowboys need to address the offensive line in 2011 either in free agency (are we tired of the Carl Nicks stuff yet?) or the draft. Or both.

Callahan has done it both ways in his past.