IRVING, Texas –For all the talk about the Cowboys' starting offensive line not having time to work together in practice enough heading into Wednesday's opener at New York, at least they had a week.
But after starting center Phil Costa went down with back tightness, the new front five really did have zero experience together, with new addition Ryan Cook taking over the duties, really only five days after being acquired in a trade from Miami.
However, Cook finished the game and held his own against the Giants' dominant pass rush. Tony Romo was sacked only once after Costa went down, and DeMarco Murray was given the room to run for 131 yards.
Some coaching staffs would have been hesitant to activate a player who was barely familiar with the offense in the middle of a crucial Week 1 game. In the locker room after the 24-17 win, the 29-year-old Cook explained that in his few practices, the Cowboys staff watched closely to determine if he would be ready to have his name called if needed.
"I think they gauged it in practice the first couple days of me being in the facility," Cook said. "I guess they were comfortable with me and my progress thus far."
Cook's ability to jump in at center is all the more impressive when he revealed how few snaps he had taken with Tony Romo prior to the game.
"The first day I was here I took two or three in the walkthrough," Cook said. "But that's about it."
As Costa's cramping on Wednesday was simply an aggravation of the injury that knocked him out of the first three preseason games, the Cowboys need reliable depth at center.
While the bottom line shows Cook he was able to get the job done, he was surprisingly not very pleased with his own performance. When asked to rate his time on the field, he was not exactly quick to pat himself on the back, calling it instead "average at best," and indeed the game was not flawless, but Cook and the Cowboys overcame the situation
"The adversity issue comes up when your starting center goes down after play three and you bring a guy in who just got here," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought our team handled that well. First of all, that's the reason he is here. He is a veteran player, he is a smart guy, he has handled the ball a lot in his career, so we thought that was an important thing for us and he went in and played like a veteran. I think the guys around him played well and communicated well. It wasn't perfect, but I thought they handled it as well as they could."
Cook, too, chose to defer some of the credit to his fellow offensive linemen, who along with Tony Romo took over a significant part of making the pre-snap calls.
"Communication is a huge factor," Cook said. "The other guys did a great job of helping me out with certain situations and we made sure that everyone was on the same page."
A seemingly small move like the trade of a seventh-round pick for Cook shows ample foresight in the Cowboys' front office. Though an under-the-radar trade, the move already has provided depth, was exactly what the Cowboys needed to help them start off the season 1-0.