OXNARD, Calif. – Chalk Tuesday up as a victory for the Cowboys' ever-changing offensive line.
The health of the offense's front five – or lack thereof, in this case – has been one of the dominant story lines of Cowboys training camp. But while Nate Livings continues to recover from surgery, fellow 2012 starter Mackenzy Bernadeau is back to work.
"I'm sick of sitting on the sideline and watching," Bernadeau said. "I've got to show up and do something, which is fun. It's going to be good to be back."
This isn't Bernadeau's debut, technically speaking. He returned to the field late last week, though his role was limited. Like most Cowboys starters, he was left out of the action for Sunday's preseason opener against Miami.
The plan is to re-acclimate this week, as Bernadeau said he feels mentally prepared – though perhaps a step behind physically.
"Technique-wise, just a little bit, because you have to knock the rust off. Mentally, I feel there – mentally I know I'm there, because I pay attention to film," he said. "That's pretty much all you can do while you're not doing much. Paying attention to blitzes, technique and what you've got to do – the only way you get back technique is practice, so it's good to be back."
The Cowboys have a mere two practices this week before they depart for their second preseason game, against Oakland. It's not a lot of time to prepare, but Bernadeau said he feels confident he can get onto the field against the Raiders.
"You can always use some extra days, but I've got to do what I've got to do," he said. "As long as I feel good and I'm not going to impede any of my injuries, I'm confident to go out there and play – just got to get the rust off."
Bernadeau mentioned rust several times following the team's morning walkthrough on Tuesday. It makes sense, as the five-year veteran missed OTA's and team minicamp for the second-straight offseason because of surgery. However gradually Bernadeau eases back to work, it will still be more than he's been able to regularly participate since the 2012 season ended.
"We took every step to stay on track, no setbacks," he said. "We did a couple of plays last week, we'll do more plays today and hopefully continue to push through."
As has been discussed in the wake of the 24-20 win against the Dolphins, Bernadeau said he's excited about the Cowboys' commitment to the run on Sunday night. Adding more depth – especially another starting guard – to that equation should only help.
"I love the fact that we rushed the ball the other night. I love running the ball – you take pride running the ball as an offensive lineman," Bernadeau said. "Just being able to have that emphasis that we want to be able to run the ball, we want to be able to implement that zone scheme, it makes you feel good as an offensive lineman – especially one that likes to run the ball."
Injuries still persist along the offensive line. Kevin Kowalski, Ray Dominguez, Livings and Jermey Parnell remain hobbled. But Bernadeau's return, along with last week's return of Ronald Leary, brings most of the big names back into the fold.
With the exception of Livings, the majority of the line's projected starters should be available in Oakland. That continuity is something Bernadeau said he needs to be involved in going forward.
"It is kind of a big deal, just because you're familiar with the guys you play next to. The more you play with them, the more you get used to them, the more the communication is key," he said. "Being around Doug Free for a while, we kind of understand each other a little bit more … you build trust with the guys around you."