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Communication Is Key For Short-Handed OL


FRISCO, Texas – All of a sudden, Zack Martin feels like the last man standing.

There's a ton of talent on this Dallas offensive line, but most of it didn't take the field on Wednesday afternoon. Tyron Smith and La'el Collins still aren't practicing, as they work their way back from ankle and knee injuries, respectively.

On top of that, Travis Frederick missed practice Wednesday. Granted, that absence was for non-injury-related reasons, but it left Martin and Connor Williams as the only starters at the outset of this week's preparations for Philadelphia.

"They're a great front," Martin said. "We see them twice a year, every year, and it's a huge challenge for us each year. But we have to stick to what we do and execute plays."

Even with Frederick expected to return, the Cowboys face the real possibility of a third-straight game without Smith, and a second-straight game without Collins. Cam Fleming and Brandon Knight once again handled tackle duties last weekend against New York, and they're once again handling the first-string duties this week.

"I thought those guys stepped in and did a nice job," Martin said. "Obviously, they're not going to have the reps like the starters do, but during practice they've been getting some reps and I think they'll continue to get better and we'll continue to get better with them in there."

Hopefully more reps will help, because there's definitely room for improvement. Dak Prescott was only sacked once by the Jets, but he was hit a whopping eight times – including several that looked particularly brutal.

With more practice should come better communication, which Martin said will be crucial if the Cowboys are going to play without their starters again.

"Communication is a big thing, and there were some times there in that game Sunday where we have to do a better job of talking and not assuming and executing ball plays," he said.