IRVING, Texas – Center Phil Costa was back on the practice field at Valley Ranch on Monday with a helmet and shells like the rest of the team. The status of his back, which he re-injured in the first quarter of the season opener, is still unclear, but his presence on the practice field might suggest a return to live game action is soon approaching.
Head coach Jason Garrett said Monday morning he wants to see Costa back at practice before making any decision about his playing time.
"We're going to see him a little today and hopefully as the week goes on," Garrett said. "We'll see how he responds."
Garrett stressed the importance of taking caution rather than rushing a player back onto the game field. Back injuries can easily be re-aggravated, as evidenced by the short-lived return to action in the final preseason game only to be immediately re-injured in the opener against the Giants.
"Really, what we have to do is just watch him and see what his health is like," Garrett said. "See what he's able to do. He did a good job trying to comeback from that injury in training camp going into that Giants game. We got to make sure he's healthy, if he is we'll make our next best evaluation."
While Costa has been on the mend, Ryan Cook has stepped in to fill the role of starting center, which could cause a difficult decision about playing time for Garrett.
"(Costa's) been a good football player for us," Garrett said. "He was our starter. Ryan (Cook) has done a good job coming in on short notice in that position. The offensive line, just like every position on our team, we're going to create competition."
Garrett did point out that no starting spots are guaranteed on this team and that if Costa wants his job back, he will have to earn it.
"We don't have a rule that says 'this guy was a starter and then he got hurt. You can't lose your starting spot due to injury.' We don't have any of those rules," Garrett said. "We want to make the best decision. We want to see him in practice, see where he is, then see what the best decision is going forward."
Cook was on the sideline at practice on Monday, dealing with what has been reported as a minor hamstring issue.