OXNARD, Calif. –Back when the Cowboys were fortunate (and, eventually, misguided) to field the same offensive line every year – from left to right, Flozell Adams, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo – the team's coaches and execs talked up the importance of continuity up front.
But that group has been dismantled over the last couple of years, with none of the players remaining. At this point, it appears likely that four of the five positions will be filled with new names, which creates a problem with continuity since the assumed starters have yet to practice together.
New right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau missed all offseason after hip surgery, and now that he's close to returning to practice, left guard Nate Livings is out with a hamstring injury. Tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free are still working on getting comfortable at their new positions, and it doesn't help the group's cohesiveness to have young players like David Arkin and Ronald Leary lining up next to them as fill-ins. Likewise, center Phil Costa has to adjust to a backup sandwich, with no way or learning what he can expect from the guys who the Cowboys were counting on to help him this year.
On one hand, the regular season opener is less than a month away. On the other, the regular season opener is almost a full month away. If the group can come together soon, there's time.
"I don't know about how long I'm going to be out, but everything's feeling better every day," Livings said. "Injuries are a part of the game, the only thing you can do is just keep preparing to get better every day, so I'm not really sweating it. … The mental are big, just dissecting the defense and imagining yourself, what you would do in this situation, what you're thinking about before the ball's snapped and stuff like that. So, it's basically practicing, but just mentally."
Both Livings and Bernadeau are likely to miss Monday's preseason opener at Oakland, but Livings believes the line is approaching a point when all five starters can play together in preseason games.
"It's going to happen," Livings said. "I'm looking forward to it. I really am. I just can't tell you when."