Thursday, June 26, 2014
Veteran depth key to offensive line
By Calvin Watkins
The Dallas Cowboys haven't made the signing of guard Uche Nwaneri official because they have to make a roster move first.
Moving Sean Lee to injured reserve, thus clearing space when training camp starts, is one possibility. The Nwaneri signing means the Cowboys want to add experienced depth to an offensive line that is getting younger at its core.
Four potential starters are each under 25 -- Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith.
Smith, 23, anchors the left tackle spot and is coming off a Pro Bowl season. The team picked up his vested option for next season and has plans to give him a long-term deal.
Martin, 23, was a first-round draft pick this year and will play right guard with the potential to move to right tackle in the future.
Frederick, also 23 and last year's first-round pick, was solid at center and appears ready for a long-term future with the Cowboys.
Mackenzy Bernadeau is 28 and he's competing for a starting left guard spot with Leary.
The old man of the group if you will, is 30-year-old Doug Free, who played well in 2013 after taking a pay cut. The Cowboys value him. The question is for how long, considering they have Martin on the roster as well as two younger tackles, Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell.
Nwaneri is 30. If he makes the team, he's got eight years of experience and adds depth to the interior of the line, which is important to the Cowboys.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said protecting Tony Romo up the gut is essential considering the quarterback is coming off back surgery.
This offseason, the Cowboys devoted themselves to getting younger and as one team official said, youth is important.
When you stick with youth, mistakes happen, and the Cowboys are willing to deal with that -- at least right now.
But there is nothing wrong with adding an experienced player to the line, and if Nwaneri's deal is completed that's what the Cowboys will have accomplished.