tabbed despite doing almost all his camp work at tackle, mostly on the right side while Doug Free backed up Adams at left. McQuisten recalls a few one-on-one drills and a few team reps at guard in Oxnard.
His start Thursday does not automatically mean he will man that post in Cleveland Sunday week. But it also does not mean that the staff is down on Procter or Berger. It means that McQuistan remains an intriguing athlete because of his size and active feet. If he succeeds - still an if until he does it - he could call to mind another lineman with whom Houck and the Cowboys made the conversion: Kevin Gogan.
Gogan was a mountain of a man, maybe closer to 6-8, and a tackle (some thought an average one) from the time Tom Landry drafted him in the eighth round in 1987 until Jimmy Johnson made him a guard in, as Gogan recalls it, 1991. Next thing you knew, Gogan was winning two Super Bowl rings in Dallas before leaving in free agency and becoming a Pro Bowl guard in Oakland and San Francisco.
Gogan was also one of the all-time personalities on those '90s Cowboys, and one of the brightest players they had. Gogan doesn't know McQuistan, but he had some observations for him by phone from his home in the Seattle area Tuesday: "I'm telling you," Gogan bellowed (he bellows a lot), "if he's got any kind of feet at all, any kind of athleticism, after getting your ass kicked out there at tackle so bad, once you move inside you'll never want to go back. You know he can do it if I could with my limited athletic ability." If this were a text instead of a phone call, Gogan could insert "lol" here.
Gogan and another of his teammates who played both positions on the '90s Cowboys and went to multiple Pro Bowls, Nate Newton, says the same thing about the key for McQuistan if this is to be a transition he can make: staying low in his stance.
"You have to get lower, a shade lower than at tackle," says Gogan. "I do think it was easier for me to move to right guard because it's more natural in a right-handed stance. And it was also a little easier having Erik Williams on one side of me and Mark Stepnoski on the other."
Williams has been coaching McQuistan all summer as a Minority Fellowship member of the Cowboys' staff, and he believes McQuistan has the athletic ability to make the shift. "He just hasn't had the chance yet to show if he has it here," tapping his chest, "or here," touching his head.
McQuistan played guard for two years at Weber, so it's nothing he hasn't tried, although he does believe he can pinpoint the way he is different as a football player in general in his third preseason.
"It's just confidence," he says, and if you watched McQuistan in past camps you could almost see him struggling with that aspect of being a pro. "It's learning weight and balance and how to run block a little bit better, drive progression, getting the knees in the right spot. Once you get that done and your hands on 'em, it's just fun after that."
The Kangaroo Court has had its turn at McQuistan already this week. If he plays well against the second-team Vikings, who will also be starting the game Thursday, there could be more interviews and more fines. Somehow, you get the idea he won't mind.