Roster Rundown: Injury Reopened Door For Bernadeau


*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features guard Mackenzy Bernadeau.*

Name: Mackenzy Bernadeau
Position: Guard
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 333
Experience: 6 seasons
College: Bentley

Key stat:Originally a seventh round pick by Carolina in 2008, Bernadeau has started 10 or more games in three of the last four seasons.

Contract Status:Signed through 2015

2013 Impact: There were plenty of questions coming out of last offseason about the shape of this Cowboys offensive line and what needed to be done in order for the front office to try and turn things around.

The previous year's free agent haul of Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings was viewed by those outside the organization as a failure, but those within the building continued to believe that despite some of the problems during the season, Bernadeau was worth hanging onto as a young developmental player.

What we learned about Bernadeau was with all the questions swirling around him, he still remained focused and prepared for 2013 with a much different attitude after having received valuable playing time in 2012. In training camp, that work put him in position to win the starting right guard spot and until the front office had the opportunity to add Brian Waters at the end of that training camp, he was going to be that guy.

Bernadeau handled the switch well, making the start on opening day against the Giants and playing well against their inside tackles, but he was replaced the following week in Kansas City and sat until the Minnesota game after Waters was injured against the Lions.

While playing, Bernadeau was steady and consistent working on that right side with the improved Doug Free. He played with power but also with some surprising foot quickness as well. There were opportunities for him to play in space with some short pulls and second level stuff in the zone schemes.

He worked well with rookie Travis Frederick handling stunts, and it was rare to see him out of place or in poor position. He was a key part of an offensive line that was much improved in the running game and was not the huge question mark in the passing game as in the previous season. His experience from 2012 was a big aid in this development.

Where He Fits: There will be once again the questions whether the club would entertain the chance to bring Brian Waters back for another season. My feeling is that the money that you would have to spend on him needs to go in another direction -- like on the defensive side of the ball.

Bernadeau played well enough as a starter that adding Waters once again to the roster doesn't have to be a consideration for this club. He showed the ability to work comfortably as a starter and there were times during the season where he was one of the best players they had inside. He does have some position flex in his ability to play center in a pinch so those are situations that needed to be thought of when putting together the 53 man roster. [embedded_ad]

Writers' Analysis:

Rowan Kavner:The Cowboys ended the year with the same offensive line they started with, but that didn't seem likely after the addition of Brian Waters. Mackenzy Bernadeau began the season as the right guard until Waters was ready, at which point he replaced Bernadeau. But credit Bernadeau for not letting that get him down the rest of the way. Waters played well until his season-ending injury, which reopened the door for Bernadeau -- who answered the call.

The offensive line play improved significantly in 2013, and it didn't regress when Bernadeau returned to the starting lineup. There were times this season when Bernadeau played like the team's best guard. The Waters signing was made to build stability for the line, which it did while Waters was healthy, but Bernadeau's play toward the end of the year may give the Cowboys enough confidence that the group they ended the 2013 season with is strong enough to keep intact for 2014.

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