The eye of scrutiny will have its first long look at how the Dallas Cowboys plan to handle an injury-depleted offensive line. From an optimistic point of view, the loss of starters Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo gives young players, such as Robert Brewster, Sam Young, and Phil Costa some valuable game experience. It can also show the coaches what to expect from Montrae Holland, who will be taking over for Kosier at left guard.
From a pessimistic point of view...well, I don't even want to go there. Preseason or not, these guys have to perform with the rest of the starting offense, of which we can expect to see a full first half of action for most of the Cowboys' starters.
"Team-wise, we're looking at pretty close to the half with the first group, or a variation thereof,'' Phillips said. Phillips said a few substitutions could be made during the half based upon situations.
Starting quarterback Tony Romo could get about 35 plays. He has had 30 plays in the first two exhibitions combined.
The game kicks off tomorrow night at 8PM (CST) on CBS from Qualcomm Stadium.
More Cowboys @ Chargers after the jump.
Jerry Jones suggested that Tony Romo might come out earlier than the rest of the starters, depending on how the offensive line fares early in the game.
"That will cause you to kind of think about how much [time] with Romo," Jones said. "We’re very comfortable with [Doug] Free out there. But certainly the other consideration is one that may limit Romo’s time."
But football is football. Romo is not going to miss time based on a fear of his getting hurt with a makeshift O-line, so says Coach Phillips.
"Yeah, of course," he said. "I mean [Marcus] Spears was out, so we shouldn’t play Bradie [James] because he might get hurt? We got plenty of good players and we did get sacked last game with [the starters] in the game, so we will come up with things that will help us protect the quarterback."
MOOOOOSE! gives his take on Romo's growth as a quarterback in this Fox Sports Southwest vidclip.
Offensive line coach Hudson Houck told me Wednesday that the staff would have to be smart and call plays with the situation at right tackle in mind. Brewster and Sam Young have been working together at the spot since the injury to Marc Colombo.
Young is a guy that I feel has a real chance to develop. His background is impressive and he appears to be a very hard worker. Young doesn’t play with pretty technique or power but like the way he tries to finish his blocks. His effort helps him more than talent right now.
Brewster has a guard's build, and his footwork might one day lead him to the move inside. To be a tackle in the NFL, you need quickness and solid footwork. Slow feet equal sacks. Brewster will need to fight hard in this Chargers game, not to be slow out of his stance, and not get overextended in his pass set. When you get overextended, all your weight is forward and the rusher has a chance to grab your pads and work by you. Brewster needs to be patient, keep his shoulders back and deliver a punch.
Coach Phillips on Brewster and some of the other young'uns:
"He made a lot of mistakes in the first ballgame," Phillips said. "I think he cut down and had one mental error in the second, which I think was a positive. He's got a lot of ability. He's got a good base, he works hard, and so I like the way he's going."
"We need playing time with our offensive linemen, our backup players. Brewster will get an opportunity to play, and we're still playing those younger guys. Young did some good things the first couple of games. I thought Costa played well in the first ballgame. Just giving them reps and playing in games -- that's what we need to look at."
"Tell them hey, this is what they drafted me for," the tackle said. "I've been out here working. I know it's my first game starting, but I'm ready to go."
Brewster has gotten plenty of advice from his fellow starters on the line.
"They told me just to try to be calm," Brewster said. "Don't be so nervous and just try to stay focused. The biggest thing they said is to be confident, don't second-guess yourself and just go out and do what I've got to do."
Offseason acquisition Alex Barron is almost recovered from an ankle injury and could play Saturday night. He might be the second-string left tackle against the Chargers, then take over at right tackle next week.
"He just told me he wants to play -- he feels good," [Jerry] Jones said. "If Barron is ready and does want to -- he said he did -- they told me he's in good enough health to do it."
Last Saturday, the Chargers, at home, defeated the Chicago Bears 25-10 in both teams' first preseason game. Rookie RB Ryan Mathews impressed and Phillip Rivers adjusted to football without WR Vincent Jackson.
Mathews, the first-round draft pick who will replace the departed LaDainian Tomlinson, gained 50 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 11 yards. Philip Rivers threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Legedu Naanee, one of the receivers the Bolts will depend on in Jackson's absence.
SB Nation Dallas-Ft. Worth's Cowboys @ Chargers Preview
NBCDFW's Cowboys @ Chargers Scouting Report
Colombo probably will be ready after arthroscopic surgery to remove five particles from his right knee. But Kosier could miss the first two games and might be out until after the Cowboys' bye week in Week 4 with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
An MRI confirmed the injury to Kosier, who went down Wednesday while practicing at center. A Cowboys source said there is little chance he will be ready for the opener and that they were preparing for him to miss at least two games.
Kosier is holding out hope he can be ready to take on Washington in Week 1.
"I'm trying to shoot for the opener right now," Kosier said, referring to the Sept. 12 game in Washington. "But we'll see how it progresses. It sucks. It really does because we were all kind of getting in a groove I felt, and it's just disappointing that this unfortunate accident happened. But, it is what it is. Montrae (Holland) is going to step in and do just fine."
For the time being, Phil Costa will sub for Kosier as Andre Gurode's backup at center.
Phil Costa, a free agent signee from Maryland, played center, guard and tackle in college, but has spent most of his time at center in camp. Kosier was the backup center, so the 6-3, 307-pound Costa will play against the Chargers. Phillips spent a few minutes talking privately to Costa after practice Wednesday, and Costa said the head coach's message was:
"It's my opportunity to step up. He said I've been doing pretty good so far, and to keep doing that."
"I felt like a pansy on the sideline," Lee said. "I wanted to be out there helping the team and this week I get a chance to do it." Is he ready? "I'm sure there will be a little bit of a learning curve," he said. "If you watch me, one play's good and the next play's not so good. So I'm trying to build that consistency."
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is another rookie who will make his debut Saturday. AOA is expected to contribute at safety and on special teams as a kick returner.
"He'll get enough snaps where we'll evaluate him," safety coach Brett Maxie said. "He knows what to do mentally. He's had to get used to the speed of the game."
He's missed a few practices with a strained hamstring, although special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has praised Holley's work on special teams. Wade Phillips has also noted he's doing a good job getting down field on punt and kick returns.
"I got a lot of one-on-ones," Ware said, smiling again. "They never knew when Spencer was coming. Sometimes a tight end and tackle would stay on Spencer because they had no choice and that would leave me one-on-one with the tackles. I have to take advantage of that."
Coaches and teammates rave about Spencer’s continued development this summer. That could mean more opportunities for Ware’s sack total to rise again, probably somewhere between last season’s 11 and his NFL-leading 20 the previous season.
"I don’t even think about (a number)," he said. "I just see to it that I get to them as many times as I can."
Ware also is hoping to up his totals in less-appreciated areas like swatting passes and forcing and-or recovering fumbles.
Alan Ball intends to mix aggressive play with a nose for the ball as the Cowboys starting FS. He knows that being the last line of defense takes a ton of preparation in just knowing as much about the competition as possible.
"I plan to spend a lot of time in the film room and know who I’m playing against. That’s one of the things that we have to do, just get a feel going ahead of where the ball’s going to be and where it’s coming out. … I just want to make sure I’m around the ball."
Earlier this week, ESPN1250 got with San Antonio's newest pro football hopeful, CB Teddy Williams.
"Thanks every1 for yer prayers an support," Rucker said on his Twitter account. "Hamstring feels great an I’m a Dallas Cowboy now! Keep me n yer prayers please."
And just for fun...