The first set of OTA’s will get under this week at Valley Ranch. While many of the Valley Ranch media members closely watching the battle between the young guns for the number three wide receiver position vacated by Jacksonville Jaguars signee Laurent Robinson a deeper look and attention should be paid to the battle to be waged at the interior of the offensive line.
It’s no huge secret that solid interior guard play can help a young center evolve and acclimate to the NFL game at a faster rate. In the offseason the Dallas Cowboys decided to address the interior of the offensive line and the guard/center theory by signing free agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings.
Aug 21, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard David Arkin (62) block in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Adding the two free agent guards could have been exactly what offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Bill Callahan, ordered for third year undrafted free agent center Phil Costa. Instead former Carolina Panther Bernadeau is on the mend from a tear in his hip that will sideline one of the newest Cowboys until the start of training camp.
Bernadeau could end up falling behind at locking down the starting offensive guard position due to the injury and the depth at guard that the Cowboys have secured this offseason. Prior to injury Mackenzy Bernadeau was likely to compete with Phil Costa for the starting center job but the injury will end that competition before it even began.
Unlike last season when Dallas carried a larger number of offensive linemen on the opening day roster due to inexperience and turnover along the offensive line, this year like the cornerback position the guard position will be one of the team’s deepest position. Young players David Arkin, Bill Nagy, Kevin Kowalski and undrafted free agent Ronald Leary will all compete the starting guard position opposite apparent entrenched free agent signee Nate Livings.
If one of these young players begin to emerge during OTA’s and mini-camp this summer then competition will make for an interesting decision for Jerry and Stephen Jones when it comes down the the final 53 man roster.
One Landry Hat favorite is Kevin Kowlaski or Killer Kowalski as known by some fans throughout the Cowboys faithful. Kowalski’s Versatility will help him during camp competition being able to play both guard and center positions. Kowalski played 114 snaps during the 2011 NFL season yielding only one sack on Tony Romo with no other QB pressures. The Cowboys are high on the 6’4″ 300 pound
second year undrafted free agent from Toledo University and will likely make the 53 man roster barring
Memphis undrafted free agent Ronald Leary will likely make the 53 man roster despite a degenerative knee issue simply to prevent another team from signing the NFL ready guard off the Cowboys practice squad if the team were to attempt to try and hide the player that the Cowboys debated drafting during the 2012 NFL draft.
The Cowboys feel Leary is a player who can make an immediate impact which is indicated by $205,000 of Leary’s $390,000 base salary for the 2012 season being fully guaranteed along with his $9,000 signing bonus.
Expect Bill Callahan to give second year guard, David Arkin, a more expanded role during OTA’s in the absence of Mackenzy Bernadeau. As Arkin is the highest draft selection of the Cowboys interior offensive selection between Bill Nagy, Ronald Leary, Kevin Kowlaski and last years starting center Phil Costa it’s no surprise the Cowboys want to see Arkin make huge strides this year or the 2011 fourth round draft selection could find himself on the outside looking in regarding a spot on the opening day 53 man roster. Calvin Watkins of ESPNdallas.com projects Arkin
as opening day starter at right guard for the Dallas Cowboys.
After Kyle Kosier’s release back in March the Dallas Cowboys have turned over the entire 2010 offensive line with the exception of Doug Free who will be moved from left tackle to right tackle in order to allow, last years first round selection, Tyron Smith to protect Tony Romo’s blindside for years to come.
The Dallas Cowboys have finally succeeded in rebuilding one of the oldest offensive lines in the NFL and with the premier and athletic pash rushers of the NFC east the infusion of youth came at a much needed time but fans should expect the growing pains associated with youth.