Outgoing offensive line coach Hudson Houck freely admits it wasn't a great year for the Cowboys up front, but believes the team has some keepers at the position group he leaves behind.
Foremost among them is 2011 first-round pick Tyron Smith, he said Wednesday at Valley Ranch, while tying up loose ends as he prepares for retirement. Smith, he hinted, could be in line to switch to the more high-profile left tackle spot sooner rather than later.
"I think the right tackle (Smith), that may be moved, he's going to be really, really special," Houck said. "A 20-year-old kid who played pretty well for being thrown in there. This was a unique year for these young kids, no minicamps andno OTAs, this is unprecedented."
While Doug Free struggled at times on the left side, Houck said he expects his play to improve after a switch, though admitting the 28-year old has reached his ceiling. It was never a consideration to make the tackle swap in the middle of 2011, however.
"It's an offseason thing," Houck said. "I think it will be done. I can't speak to what they're thinking now, but I would guess that's what it'll be."
Houck said he was proud of the fight put up by the front five this year, as the team attempted to begin a rebuilding project on the line that will continue to take time.
"There's not question they got better," Houck said. "The center (Phil Costa) got more confident. We had to change out a few guys at the guard spot because of injuries and that sort of slowed the progress. I think Doug will get better. He pretty much is what he is, but I think he can get better. Tyron will get a lot better."