Dallas Cowboys Camp Battles: Phil Costa Should Start at Center

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More important, if there’s a hole to be filled with new blood, why not start with the weakest link? Costa has demonstrated he can excel as a center in this scheme. He showed flashes of brilliance in an injury-riddled 2012. Not to make too much of a single game, but recall his play against the Ravens? The broader point is Costa is young and still has upside; Bernadeau and Livings are both more road weary and have chronic knee issues.

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (70) relaxes after the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Centers commonly develop first as guards: Andre Gurode went to five pro bowls as a Cowboys center; he started his playing career as a guard. It’s not uncommon for centers to spend time at guard in their early years. This gives them the opportunity to master blocking schemes, learn to read defenses, and get used to the speed of the NFL. This all before they have to take on the leadership and assignment-calling duties of a center.

Fredbeard may well be the ‘Boys center of the future; letting him develop his first year at guard wouldn’t change that, and it might be a smart way to bring him along. It’s not unprecedented. And it’s really no different from drafting Tyron Smith as the franchise’s left tackle of the future, and starting him his first year at right tackle.

Sure, the experts in the national media may skewer Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for starting his high-profile first-round center at guard. But Jerry must know by now that the experts will sneer at him no matter what he does – they simply don’t know any other way to cover him. Expert dogma dictates Jerry is a meddler and a puppet master. So no matter what actually happens, the story writes itself.

The experts spent months blistering Jerry for picking a center in the first round – imagine the fun they’ll have if Frederick starts at guard because he was beaten out at center by a former undrafted free agent. Cue the eye rolling. Would it matter if Frederick played well at guard? No. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. So at this point, why should Jerry care?

But competition is the keystone of Garrett’s camp – you wanna play for Garrett, you gotta earn your spot. Every day. Costa should have ample opportunity to prove his worth at center this training camp. If past history is any indication, he’s the type of player who can rise to the challenge and win the spot. It’s a mistake to underestimate Bulldog Costa – just ask Andre Gurode.

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