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Friday, February 24, 2012
Jerry Jones laments Cowboys' line play

By Todd Archer

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Jerry Jones looks for one of the reasons why the Cowboys have not made the playoffs or advanced far when they have made the postseason, he looks at the position he used to play at Arkansas: offensive line.

“I can say that the offensive line has been a significant contributor to us being a mediocre team,” Jones said, "and I’m one of the biggest, not one of, I may be the biggest reason why it is because ultimately it’s my decision. It was my decision to go with who we went with in 2010 and then in 2011 to change who we went to and go. Ultimately that falls on my shoulders.”

Last year marked the first time in his tenure as owner and general manager that Jones elected to take an offensive lineman in the first round when he selected Tyron Smith No. 9 overall, but he also cut three starters from 2010 in Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo.

The Cowboys opened the year with three unproven starters in Smith, center Phil Costa and left guard Bill Nagy, a seventh-round pick. After Nagy got hurt, the Cowboys turned to veterans Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Jones said the uneven play in the interior of the line led to some of the offensive woes in 2011 because “it created ambiguity for our quarterback,” in terms of trusting what was happening in front of him.

In addition to Smith and Nagy, the Cowboys drafted David Arkin in the fourth round last year, but he did not play a game in 2011. The team also likes undrafted free agent Kevin Kowalski.

“I’m really pleased with everything we’ve done for the future on the offensive line, and we’re not through,” Jones said.

Jones said it was possible the Cowboys could select an offensive lineman in the first round this year (Stanford guard David DeCastro?) or go after one in the second round.

But what has him the most excited is the addition of offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who took over for a retiring Hudson Houck.

“Callahan is not only someone who can make a big contribution to overall what we’re doing as a team and offensively with his unique background, but he’s also a heckuva offensive line coach,” Jones said. “And we’re going to benefit from, for the lack of a better word, the freshness he brings to how they’re coached, and I was the No. 1 Hudson Houck fan in the building.”