*(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features center Phil Costa.) *
Name: Phil Costa Position: Center Height/Weight: 6-4 / 304
Experience: 3 seasons
Key stat:Costa only started and finished one game last year, but it happened to be a record-setting game. The Cowboys rushed for 229 yards against the Ravens, the most rushing yards allowed by the eventual Super Bowl champions in their franchise history.
Contract Status:Signed through 2014.
How He Played In 2012: There is nobody on this DallasCowboys.com staff that has been more critical of Phil Costa than me. I have always thought that if given the opportunity to upgrade the position, I believed that the front office should have done just that. When Costa struggled with the back injury during the pre-season then only lasted a handful of plays during opening night against the Giants, my feelings grew even stronger. When he returned to take his spot against the Ravens, there was a side of me that believed that he would really struggle against the size of their inside players with his back condition but he played outstanding not only against their size but really doing a nice job of cutting the Ravens defense in half with his second level blocks. He was able to play with some power on his sets and not get pushed back into Romo's lap where I worried that the front of the pocket would not allow him to step up. Costa, Bernadeau and Livings as a group really did a nice job of keeping the front of the pocket clean that day. I mentioned Costa in the running game because he was able to play on his feet, sustain his blocks and allow the ball to work off him. He was able to finish blocks like I had never seen him do before. The following week against Carolina he suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and his season was done. In that contest he started off well and there was some carry over from the Baltimore game but it just wasn't meant to be.
Where He Fits: The front office extended his contract for two more season for workable money, so barring any competition through the draft, he will be the center they go with opening day. There still is a side of me that believes they should try and upgrade the position but he did show a level of play in the Baltimore game that I had not seen from him in the past. For the club's case, I hope they are right about where he fits. The team brought in Travis Frederick from Wisconsin who played center in college, plus there are several quality centers in the draft that could be considerations during the draft or after. I will admit that he played better for one game and part of another one, so we will see how this plays out.
Writers' Analysis: [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman:* *The Cowboys signed Costa to a two-year extension, avoiding restricted free agency. It wasn't enough money (two years, $2.7 million) to fully guarantee he will start. But if he can at least get fully healthy, the Cowboys have to be interested in his potential. Sure, he only played one game last year, but he was dominant against the Super Bowl champs. Costa played his best game of his career and that alone should be reason to see what he can do if he's at full strength. The ankle injury that wiped out most of his season was a freak play. That happens and is nothing to be alarmed about. But the nagging back injury is probably a little more concerning. It plagued him in camp and early in the season. Costa might not be a flashy player, but what center is? It's not a position for flash and flamboyance. He'll have to win the job but unless the Cowboys draft a center in the first two rounds, which is unlikely, I would guess it'll be Costa's job.