O-Line, Time To Fess Up

"he can't move." That's baloney. Some maybe, but not all 49 he suffered. Hey, block a little. 

If you thought those sacks were the difference between 9-7 and possibly 11-5 last year, then you had better look at what's facing the Cowboys the first seven games of this season. 

Let's start with, well, where they start, Jacksonville. The Jaguars finished with 47 sacks last year. That tied them for third in the NFL with Pittsburgh. Washington the following Sunday night, well, the Skins' 35 had them tied for 20th. 

But Tennessee is next. The Titans finished with 41, tied for ninth, along with the Giants. Philly, again, not so much (29). Houston had 37, same as the Cowboys, tying them for 14th, along with Arizona and Atlanta, two more teams the Cowboys must play during the course of the season. And then there is Carolina lurking in Game 7. The Panthers finished with 45 sacks last year, ranking them seventh. 

And before the season is over with, throw in the Colts for good measure. They finished tied for fifth with 46. And then there's Tampa Bay with 36, tying the Bucs for 18th. 

So as you can see, the Cowboys have their hands full. They will play three games against teams ranked in the top seven of sacks last year, and six ranked in the top nine. 

On top of that, they must face 16 players this year who finished last season with at least 7½ sacks. 

No doubt about it, this offensive line must be improved from where it left off last year or else. 

The return of Adams automatically makes the line better, but then he has to return, and while Parcells was encouraged by his return to practice on Monday after suffering the strained calf Aug. 21, it's not like the Cowboys were practicing in full pads. He's got a lot to see from Adams in the next three days. Plus, Adams hasn't played a full football game since Oct. 9 of last year. 

A much healthier Rivera also creates improvement. Remember, last year he was stiff and had limited leg strength after having back surgery in March. He's far removed from that today. 

Kosier, from a mobility standpoint, should at least be a push at left guard for Larry Allen. Obviously not as strong, but again, it's not as if Allen was plowing tunnels out there on third-and-short last year. 

Center still is somewhat of a concern. One game Gurode is on. The next, well, take Minnesota. He has one early snap, which results in Bledsoe getting popped in the head and knocked out of the game, and one errant shotgun snap Tony Romo had to snag on a hop. And he had problems with those hefty Vikings defensive tackles. Yeah, well meet Jacksonville's starting defensive tackles, 6-7, 325-pound John Henderson and 6-6, 306-pound Marcus Stroud. 

We'll see. 

And finally, we get to right tackle. It's Colombo's job today, and Chicago's former first-round draft choice (2002) has held his own this preseason and seems to be getting better the more he plays. But remember, this has been preseason. 

Since Colombo started five games his rookie season before suffering a dislocated left patella and femoral nerve damage on Nov. 18, 2002, he has started only two NFL games, both in 2004 with the Bears. He didn't play a down in 2003, appeared in only the second half of the 2004 season and played no football after the season opener in 2005 until the Cowboys signed him on Nov. 1. And even at that, while he appeared in only the final three games of the season, he had been reduced to field-goal block and a blocking third tight end for a play or three.  

So really, Colombo has not played for any length of time in a game of consequence since Dec. 26, 2004, and no more than two of those since 2002 at that. 

Then again, if his left knee is sound and that left leg is strong again, remember he was a former first-round pick the Cowboys basically picked up as a flyer for nothing. 

So what you think? 

No one seemingly wants to commit about this group. Seeing will be believing. Even Monday, when asked if, overall, this offensive line was better than last year's edition, Parcells was somewhat non-committal. 

"Overall, I think potentially, yes," he said, not exactly a ringing endorsement for Sept. 10. 

But right now? 

"I don't know,"

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