OXNARD, Calif. – If a team's offensive line is typically the strong, silent type, it certainly doesn't seem like this team got the memo.
Roughly 10 days into training camp, the high-profile group of blockers is the hot topic of every occasion. This year's first-round draft pick is a guard. The second-year center, also a first-round draft pick, holds court with the media the way a quarterback typically does.
Then there's the matter of the fourth-year left tackle – another first-rounder – who is now football's highest-paid offensive lineman after signing a $110 million contract on Wednesday.
As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has noted on many occasions, the addition of Zack Martin to a group that already included Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith is the latest effort in a multi-year commitment to turning the offensive line into a force.
"We've allocated resources and we really feel in a lot of ways the offensive line is the heartbeat of the football team," Garrett said. "If you look back at some of the great teams in the history of this league and the history of this franchise, there were always great offensive linemen and great offensive line units."
This Cowboys' unit plays that part extremely well. Stories abound around NFL locker rooms about group dinners and other bonding activities. Frederick said the group chemistry goes beyond anything he's seen in his football career – from dinners together, to group workouts at 6:30 a.m.
"Everything you hear about is absolutely true – our group is as close as I've ever seen a group be. I think that's very important, as I said before, because it's a five-person group, everything has to be done together," he said. "The amount of time that we spend together off the field, in season, out of season, during offseason workouts – almost everybody, if not everybody was in during voluntary times all working together."
Among the entire group, Frederick and Martin are sure to draw close comparisons through the [embedded_ad]
duration of their time in Dallas. The Cowboys traded back to take Frederick 31st overall on April 25, 2013 – less than a full year before taking Martin No. 16 this past May.
"He's been great – he was in my shoes last year, and anything he can help me with he has been," Martin said. "I'm pretty lucky to come into a situation where there's a guy right next to me that's been through it."
The kinship goes deeper than that, though. During the grind of training camp, with a 90-man roster in place, there's a larger-than-normal group of 15 offensive linemen. Garrett said this week that hasn't precluded their organization – which leads to a lot of big people moving places together.