Already Falling In Line

final week of camp when the offensive line was so discombobulated Parcells threw the first-team offense off the field. Parcells not only barked at the O-Line on the way off, but swear, he must have stared those guys down during the next two plays. 

But Sparano stubbornly said the group was improving. 

Maybe these guys have, the first unit Saturday night including rookie Pat McQuistan at left tackle, Kyle Kosier at left guard, Andre Gurode at center, Rivera at right guard and Marc Colombo playing the first half at right tackle. 

"It's been hard work to get here and we'll keep working hard," said right guard Marco Rivera, whom Sparano said has better leg drive and is bending much better now that he's 1½ years removed from last year's March back surgery. "We know if we do our job (the offense) we'll be successful." 

Well, if numbers mean anything, the offensive line was doing its job Saturday night. Julius Jones had 15 carries for 56 yards. Marion Barber had nine carries for 49 yards in the first half, including a five-yard touchdown run on a draw play. And that doesn't include rambling 34 yards on of all things - for the Cowboys - a screen pass. 

Even the second unit, with Rob Petitti at left tackle and Jason Fabini at right tackle, must have done something right since Tyson Thompson had 65 yards on 11 carries, including a turn-the-corner 24-yarder which had to make Parcells drool. 

Not only did the Cowboys successfully run that screen, thanks a lot to a pull-out block by Gurode, but they only gave up one sack, Thompson missing a blitz pickup in the second half. And as Gurode pointed out, the Niners played like six different fronts in the game. 

Now no one on that line was smirking, or blabbering I told you so. No, it was nothing like that. It's not the nature of offensive linemen to brag. 

But these guys are starting to gain some confidence, and realize when Adams gets back and a starter is chosen on the right side they'll start to develop some always-needed continuity. 

But for now, they seem to have developed some tough skin. 

"We have a saying on the offensive line," Gurode said. "You're like a mushroom, everyone throws everything on you and you are kept in the dark. 

"We just got to continue to work. Work hard day by day." 

And if they go this week and next week, that will take them to Sept. 10 in Jacksonville when this stuff starts for real. 

Then you have to start, ready or not.                   

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