The O-line is full of potential probowlers!

Well, technically it is, you know. My favorite comment of the off season so far was one BTB'er's prediction that Dallas will "have five starting o-linemen" week 1.

But from the way people have been going on about "the kool-aid krew" (the "KAK"?), as Conn Cowboy has dubbed us, you would think we were predicting the starting line up for Deion's probowl team would be Smith, Leary, Frederick, Arkin, Free. I personally have mentioned Leary hardly at all and have been positively tempered about Arkin, simply saying he's visibly much better than the (hobbled, we now know) incumbent starting LG, while repeatedly suggesting his critics watch the video of Arkin and Free working together to see for themselves. But perhaps you'd listen to an ESPN writer? What if that ESPN writer was a 6-time probowl, 2-time all-pro, 3-ring wearing Offensive Guard? would he have some credibility or is that just another KAK member?

Now there's a component of people here who adamantly believe that Dallas has "ignored" the offensive line. They also believe that Dallas is incapable of developing offensive linemen. They also believe that Jimmy Johnson built his early 90's Cowboys around the offensive line and that no one has said anything positive about any lineman other than Frederick.

There is overwhelming evidence that every last one of those statements is incorrect, but I can sum that evidence up in two words: Nate Newton.(fanshot!)

Nate Newton, along with Mark Tuinei and Kevin Gogan, was on the cowboys long before Jimmy ever got there. And Nate Newton has shared his comments regarding the Dallas o-linemen. He has been complimentary of Frederick and Leary both, while noting their areas for improvement. But there's one fall back of the die hard Cowboys Masochist ( that is, the fan who is vested in the belief that Jerry Jones has ruined the team and therefore the team cannot and, in some extreme cases, MUST not ever succeed under Jones): David Arkin.

Everyone knows David Arkin is a bust. Everyone knows David Arkin will never be a player. Tim MacMahon has been saying it for over a year. Even Bryan Broaddus, forced to grudgingly admit that Arkin is playing much better this year, still will not acknowledge that he could possibly beat out an ice-tub-ridden McKenzie Bernadeau. Bob Sturm, easily the most thorough cowboys beat writer in history, couldn't be bothered to watch the reps being discussed before vehemently slamming the door on any who suggest Arkin might be a legitmate challenger for the starting job.

Once again, enter Nate Newton. I think a man who played with Larry Allen (who was drafted by Barry Switzer, BTW), and went to Hawaii with that notable on many occasions understands good Guard play better than most. Here's what he had to say about David Arkin:

David Arkin looked great today. Good hand placement. Him and Doug Free worked well, very well today, especially against the pass-rush situations. He looked good today. He looked solid.

Good. Solid. Great. And that was two days before the mothership videos that showed he was right. Still available on are the videos TC Live - In the Trenches and The Blue and White Scrimmage. These videos both have about ten minutes of pass rush and combo drills. This is video, from two consecutive days of practice, of the linemen focusing on and improving their craft. For the Scrimmage video, you need to jump to the 1 hour mark for the bit I'm discussing here. Arkin looks good in the first video. Excellent in the second. His teamwork with Free is clearly better than any other pair out there. Now, Ronald Leary had not practiced by this time, but Arkin is unquestionably the best guard in these videos and also unquestionably better than Costa, as well, though, obviously, Costa had to snap the ball in his reps.

Is Arkin going to be better than Bernie? impossible to say. Does success in camp mean success in a game? nope. But it's absolutely incorrect to say there's no sign of improvement or hope. It is reasonable to say we must wait and see. It is not reasonable to ask "how come no one is saying anything good?", as a couple of BTB'ers have, when you refuse to acknowledge anything good that is being said.

What do I see for this line? some growing pains to be sure. I also don't forsee the massive upgrade to the run game that some are hoping for, though I do believe there will be an uptick just from the quality and depth improvements at RB. But I *do* believe this line will be better at pass protection, and particularly at handling stunts and A-gap blitzes than last year's, and I do believe that, not run blocking, was the more important area for improvement this year. I think there will be a marked reduction of unblocked pass rushers in the interior, and that is enough for me.

Pass the kool-aid.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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