Phillips: Youth Shows, But O-Line Battles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Cowboys knew growing pains would accompany three first-year starting offensive linemen this season, particularly in the opener against a complex Jets defense.

That proved true in Sunday's 27-24 loss. The young trio of Phil Costa and rookies Tyron Smith and Bill Nagy battled all night, but offensive line coach Hudson Houck will likely point to a share of mistakes among the entire line this week.

Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked four times and hit at least that many times. One sack could be attributed to veteran right guard Kyle Kosier, who appeared to get beat by the Jets' Bart Scott.

The biggest issue, Houck said, was the running game's inconsistency. The Cowboys gained only 64 yards on 26 carries (2.5 avg.), and the longest gain was Kevin Ogletree's 7-yard end-around.

"They did a nice job of taking it away with a lot of Bear defense which was kind of overloaded to the run," said Houck, also the offense's run game coordinator. "That's just kind of what their style is."

Houck said the Jets' nickel pass rush hurt the line early, but they recovered as the game wore on.

"Just the idea that the guys kept playing and kept fighting and some of the young guys I didn't think it was too big for them," he said. "They knew what was going on out there and they shared the information, whether it was good or bad. At least they knew what was happening."

Said head coach Jason Garrett: "It's a very good defense with a lot of looks in base and their nickel defense. They challenge you in a lot of ways, physically first, and then with their looks. I thought for the most part our guys handled it pretty well."

Also Smith, the club's first-round draft pick, appeared to finish the game without any setbacks after hyper-extending his right knee on Wednesday.

"Just took it day by day and saw how it felt," he said. "It was ready by game day so they put me out there."

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