Thursday, June 26, 2014
Left guard battle is between brothers
By Calvin Watkins
The business of the NFL takes over on a regular basis, so when the Cowboys drafted Zack Martin in the first round last month, it meant somebody along the offensive line was going to lose a starting job.
What the team did was pit Ronald Leary against Mackenzy Bernadeau for the starting spot at left guard.
Leary started all 16 games at the position last season, while Bernadeau regained the starting spot at right guard after Brian Waters suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle injury. Bernadeau started 11 games for the Cowboys at right guard, but Martin is playing there now, so it's a position switch for the seven-year veteran.
"It's part of the business; it is what it is," Bernadeau said. "I can only control what I can control, and that’s getting better and doing my role and Martin is a great guy and I'm helping him out as well and talking to him. A great player, a great guy."
Leary said the same thing about Bernadeau, whom he called his brother despite the reality that they are competing for the same position.
"Competition is a good thing; it forces you to play your game," Leary said., "Play your best ball, and I knew coming into this game I was going to have to compete and I don’t have problem competing. So me and Mac, that's my brother, so it's not like we going behind each others back. We talk and help each other out; it’s a great thing."
From the moment the Cowboys signed Leary as an undrafted free agent in 2012, he was scheduled to become a starter. It just took him getting used to the NFL game after playing in college at Memphis.
The biggest issue with Leary was a chronic knee problem. It hasn't caused him to miss any games.
"This is as healthy as I've been in a long time, going back to college," he said. "I feel great right now, I'm feeling good right now."
Bernadeau was signed as a free agent from Carolina the same year and endured offseason health issues that prevented him from starting training camp on time. He played in 16 games in 2012, including two starts at center, showing the Cowboys position flexibility.
But last year, Bernadeau had more health problems and before the start of the season, the team signed Waters. He played well until his injury and then Bernadeau took over to start 11 games.
This summer at training camp, the Cowboys will share the first-team snaps between Leary and Bernadeau.
There's a belief both will remain on the 53-man roster regardless of who wins the starting job.
"We both compete as hard as we can and help each other on and off the field and we talk about certain plays we like and don’t like," Bernadeau said. "Its great competition. We're great friends and I understand the business."