IRVING, Texas --Quarterback Tony Romo had barely met Kevin Kowalski when the rookie center learned mere hours before kickoff that he would start the Cowboys' "dress rehearsal" preseason game in late August.
Taking his first snaps ever with Romo, Kowalski handled himself well against Minnesota that night while the organization made a business decision to sit veteran center Andre Gurode, ultimately releasing him two days later.
Undrafted out of Toledo, Kowalski learned his opportunity could come at any moment. So when starting center Phil Costa left last Sunday's game against the Giants with concussion-like symptoms, Kowalski wasn't overwhelmed.
"He's a guy that's always prepared," offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. If there's anybody that's going to come off the bench and do well it would be the guy that's in there doing work extra, studying the tape. That's exactly what he is. Always prepared, always knows what to do."
It wasn't perfect. Romo mentioned a couple of communication issues in the game -- not surprising since the two don't practice snaps together during the week.
But Kowalski expects to be ready if Costa can't play against Tampa.
"It's just something that's kind of been expected since I've been here," Kowalski said. "From what happened in the preseason to early on in the season, I know that I've been in situations where I've had to be prepared."