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No Bigger Alternative To Costa At Center

IRVING, Texas --Although they say he made progress in his first season as a starter, the Cowboys have made clear they want challengers for center Phil Costa's job.

One reason appears to be something Costa has no control over: his physical size.

Unlike his predecessor, Andre Gurode, Costa doesn't have ideal arm length for warding off pass rushers. The Cowboys believe they have surrounded Costa with two bigger, stronger starting guards in Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. If someone does step up and outperforms Costa this summer, so be it.

Problem is, Costa's competitors have similar limitations. Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski are both a little undersized. Like Costa, they must rely on their technique, quickness, smarts and toughness at center or guard, where they played some last season.

"All three of them, at the end of the day it's their size," executive vice president Stephen Jones said, "but there's a lot of guys that play like them and play well around the league. We're lucky to have them and it's going to make for some really good competition in training camp."

Smaller centers can be successful in the league, and they're actually better matchups for quicker defensive tackles like the Cowboys' own Jay Ratliff. But if the club wants a bigger alternative at center, they'll have to look outside Valley Ranch.

That's why my money's on Costa, now with 16 starts under his belt, to win an in-house position battle in camp.

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