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Monday, January 23, 2012
Did the Cowboys err in evaluating the middle of the offensive line?

By Calvin Watkins

MOBILE, Ala. -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones hinted how the team evaluated the middle of the offensive line led to some problems.

The Cowboys released two veterans, center Andre Gurode and guard Leonard Davis and replaced them with second-year player Phil Costa at center and rookie Bill Nagy. But Nagy suffered a season-ending injury, and the Cowboys had Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery at left guard for the bulk of the season.

Both Holland and Dockery suffered injuries as did right guard Kyle Kosier, who moved from the left guard spot to help rookie right tackle Tyron Smith with his communication skills.

Jones, attending Monday practices for the annual Senior Bowl, seemed to think all the reps the young offensive linemen had in training camp made a profound impact on the Cowboys coaching staff. When the lockout ended, the Cowboys had to wait until a certain date to bring in veteran players after they signed. As the team waited, it allowed younger players to get more snaps in practices.

Yet once the season begin, the younger linemen struggled at times, leading the Cowboys to sign veterans.

"In personnel we may have gotten over zealous with some young players in the middle of our offensive line," Jones said. "We have to make sure we not only give them a chance to grow and have progress but we also have to have the type of protection we want in there for Tony."

Tony being quarterback Tony Romo, who was sacked 36 times in 2011.

The Cowboys might not go with an inexperienced offensive line in the future. Yes, Smith will enter his second year in 2012, first at possibly left tackle, and Costa will have at least 16 games on his resume, but after that, the Cowboys might have a rookie guard, from the draft, or a veteran at another guard spot.