The Dallas Cowboys opened camp yesterday and football fans that have been dormant for the offseason woke up. Real football is a real thing and it’ll creep up on everyone sooner than we think. The collective group in Oxnard, CA will need every moment and then some to get this team ready for the regular season.
As always, there’s battles waging at multiple positions, and this year’s Dallas Cowboys training camp is no different. One important battle that lost a competitor right off the bat, at least for the short term, is at left guard. According to multiple sources, including Rowan Karver of DallasCowboys.com, Ronald Leary will be starting things out on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The injury to his hamstring was sustained during a player-held conditioning test Monday. Karver explains further:
“Ron Leary [was] placed on the active/PUP list Thursday morning, but [Jason] Garrett doesn’t expect Leary’s hamstring to keep him out long. He said he hopes Leary can be back around Tuesday.”
Although it doesn’t sound like Leary will be out long, it’s still a setback for a player looking to secure a starting job at the only position on the offensive line that’s really up for grabs. If the injury lingers, he may end up starting the season as a second-string player, backing up whoever wins the left guard position and first-round pick Zack Martin, who is penciled in at the right guard spot.
So if Leary doesn’t come out on top and breaks camp as the starting left guard Week 1, who wins it? The two main competitors are Mackenzy Bernadeau, who has played all over the interior of the Cowboys offensive line, and Uche Nwaneri, who was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and was signed as depth and competition. Both players are versatile and neither one is flashy. With three first-round picks projected to start on Dallas’ line, you wouldn’t expect whoever wins the left guard position to stand out. At the same time, in terms of continuity, hopefully whoever wins the spot is the real deal and a carousel of players doesn’t fill in.
Dark Horse Contender: Brian Clarke
Brian Clarke is one of the many undrafted free agents the Cowboys brought in this offseason. He’s from Bloomsburg, a Division II school. He’s not huge (6’3”, 290 lbs.) but he has a big burst out of his stance and engages with his man quickly. During his senior season he was a big reason his team ran for 3,762 yards. Keep an eye on him, with Leary on the shelf for a little bit, he may get his chance to make some noise.