FRISCO, Texas -One of the most highly contested competitions during training camp and the preseason was the battle for the starting left guard position. With Ronald Leary leaving in free agency to this week's opponent, Denver, and La'el Collins moving to right tackle, the Cowboys had a rather sizeable hole to fill between left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick.
And with several different players getting a shot at stepping into the role, who would be the starting left guard was one of the final decisions made by the coaching staff. In the hunt were the likes of Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper with Byron Bell and Joe Looney also seeing time there during camp.
But when the curtain opened on the 2017 regular season this past Sunday night, it was Green who got the call, the third-year veteran making his first official NFL start at guard.
"Chaz did a good job," said head coach Jason Garrett during his Monday press conference. "Obviously, with all of these guys, there's a lot of stuff we've go to work on, but it seemed like he handled the work well."
Originally a third-round pick out of Florida in the 2015 draft, Green basically had to redshirt his first season with the Cowboys after suffering through a hip issue. He then played in just four games last year at tackle, including two starts, before injuries caused him to miss the remaining 12 contests.
Now, he's just happy to be healthy and on the field.
"It was good getting back out there," Green said. "It felt good. There was stuff I could definitely build on, but overall I think I got off to a good start."
That start was even more impressive considering that Dallas had to open the 2017 campaign against one of the toughest defensive fronts in the NFL. But behind the efforts of Green and his offensive line teammates, the Cowboys totaled 392 yards of offense and held the time of possession advantage, 34:14 to 25:46. They also paved the way for Ezekiel Elliot to rush for 104 yards in the 19-3 victory.
"I just knew I had to come and take it one play at a time," said Green. "Just bring technique and trust what I've been taught."
"You've got to give a lot of credit to the Giants. Their defensive line is really good and their defense as a whole is really good," said Frederick. "It was going to be a great challenge for us, but I think, although there are a lot of things that we need to clean up in general, I think things went pretty well for us.
"And I thought Chaz did a nice job. The communication was clean for the most part. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow throughout the season."
Needless to say, having primarily played tackle in college as well, Green is still learning the nuances of lining up at guard. Battling the behemoths in the interior requires a little more muscle at the point of attack, but there is also a quickness needed to pull and get to the outside. Though it's still early, the move seems to suit him.
"I'm much more comfortable than I was even a month ago at this position," said Green. "I'm just using that (first game) to build confidence and move forward."
It won't get any easier. Next up are the Broncos, who last year tied for third in the league with 42 sacks, and in their opener on Monday night, limited the Chargers to just 64 yards rushing.
But if his debut effort at guard is any indication, Green may only strengthen what is already an impressive offensive line.
"He fit in well with the group," said Garrett. "They communicated well; they were on the same page. He showed up in the run game, showed up as pass protector. He just did some positive things."