GRAPEVINE, Texas – Speculate no further about Phil Costa's reaction to the Cowboys' draft process – he'll tell you himself.
The Cowboys center missed nearly all of the 2012 season with multiple injuries, namely a dislocated ankle suffered in October against Carolina. Though it seems like the four-year veteran has cleared that obstacle, another one has appeared in the first round selection of Travis Frederick. The former Wisconsin Badger comes to Dallas as the No. 31 overall pick and a favorite to take Costa's job.
That's no matter to the veteran, though.
"I met Travis and he seems like a great guy. I was very welcoming," Costa said Wednesday at the Cowboys' Annual Golf Classic. "You don't get anywhere being a certain way, as an older guy, to a younger guy."
Despite the potential competition for his position, Costa said it's the nature of the business of pro football. He added that it's important to bring Frederick into the fold among the offensive linemen. When the Maryland product made the team in 2010, he said the guidance of his fellow offensive linemen made the transition smoother.
"I was treated good," he said. "I was with [Kyle] Kosier, Andre [Gurode], [Marc] Colombo and all those guys were good to me. They taught me a lot, taught me how to be, and I appreciated that."
One way or another, Costa figures to be a much larger part of the offensive line in the coming season. Back problems from training camp sidelined him through the beginning of last season, and he managed to start just three games before the dislocated ankle ended his campaign.
"It feels it's been such a long offseason, and especially having a frustrating year last year. I'm ready to get back out there 100 percent," he said.
That term, "100 percent" is one Costa threw around several times. He was placed on the Cowboys' injured reserve in early December after dislocating the ankle in late October. He said the recovery has been faster than he initially anticipated, however.
"I talked with the trainers on how long they expected it to be," Costa said. "They expected it to be a four to six month recovery, and I was pretty much 100 percent right at the four month mark – maybe a little before – but it's healed well."
He added: "Every little thing that's an advantage that I can do to get healthy, I've been doing."
With his ankle a full-go for the coming OTAs and, eventually, training camp, Costa said it's important for the offensive line to jell as much as possible before the pads go on. The offensive line might be one of the units experiencing the least amount of change, with Bill Callahan returning for another season, but Costa said offseason focus is still crucial.
"We're changing a few techniques here and there, but guys are just coming together and spending more time together as an O-Line," he said. "Especially right now in the teaching sessions and OTAs, I think it's important that we kind of put it together now and mold it during camp." [embedded_ad]
Excitement for the future is one of the reasons Costa decided to settle his own future in March. After going through restricted free agency in 2013, he would have been able to test the open market next spring, though he opted not to with a two-year deal, citing several reasons for the decision.
"I wanted to stay with Dallas. Everything they do is really a first class organization. Being with Bill Callahan as the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach is huge. I think he's one of the best in the league, and I feel I can get that much better being with him," Costa said. "We've got a great group of guys here in Dallas, a bunch of selfless guys. And I feel like we have a great chance to win here as well."
Where Costa factors in that future is a question following the arrival of Frederick. But for his part, the incumbent starter embraced the next challenge to come.
"I look at it as I'm going into my fourth year. I've been here for a little while, and I'm trying to be a leader out there and be a player on this team – that's important," he said.