ARLINGTON, Texas – Chaz Green learned he'd making his first career NFL start when All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith's sore back didn't loosen up before kickoff.
Ronald Leary entered the starting lineup at left guard for the first time since the 2015 season finale after La'el Collins left with an injured right toe in the second quarter.
Two-fifths of the Cowboys' starting offensive line were missing by the second half Sunday night, but Green (last year's third-round pick) and Leary (a 35-game starter from 2012-15) filled in capably in a 31-17 victory over the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium.
"I thought we showed our depth on the offensive line tonight," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "We had Green come in and play well. Of course, Ronald Leary is an important guy. All of that lets us think that we have a team – we'll have challenges in the long haul during the season – that will adjust."
Despite losing his starting job to Collins midway through last season, Leary never lost belief that he's a starting-caliber player. He didn't participate in the voluntary portion of the Cowboys' offseason program, but the team didn't trade him because it valued his experience behind the starting unit.
"It's been one of the hardest things I've been through," Leary said. "But sometimes you've just got to be a pro about things and just be ready because it could happen any time. It's a physical game and everybody's a snap away."
When Collins left Sunday's game – he's set to undergo an MRI on Monday, Jones said – Leary didn't have any rust rejoining the first group.
"Just like old times," he said. "Big smiles when I came in. I love playing with those guys. I miss playing with them. It felt good to be back out there with them."
Green's experience with the starting line was limited to training camp and preseason when Smith was rested or sat out due to a stinger. But those three preseason starts – particularly left tackle, which he rarely played in college – helped his preparation.
[embeddedad0]"Going against some first-string guys on other teams (against) Seattle, Miami – I think that definitely helped me with my confidence and everything and feeling like I can go out there and have a good performance," Green said.
"Coach always says when your number's called be ready. I feel like that's what I did today. Obviously got some stuff to improve on but I feel like I held my own, definitely."
The offense thrived behind the altered line. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 248 yards and the running game produced 199 yards while dominating time of possession, 35:19 to 24:41.
"L.C. and Tyron are two great players. They're big parts of the line," Leary said. "But we all work in practice. We've got a good coach. He coaches us hard to harp on the little details and stuff, and all that showed up tonight."