Much of the public spotlight during Cowboys training camp and in the wake of Thursday's game against the Broncos has been on the development of the young players. Tyron Smith and David Arkin have been making almost daily headlines on the O-line, emerging talent at the running back and receiver positions has kept many a fan glued to camp coverage, and even UDFA rookie linebackers such as Alex Albright and Orie Lemon are turning heads.
But there's one guy who has hardly warranted any mention in camp coverage so far, yet Jerry Jones has virtually promised him a starting spot: Phil Costa.
"Costa is going to play a lot for the Cowboys . . . now. Now!" Jones said with emphasis. "I don't know how that works, but I'm glad we've got him. At this juncture, I don't know if anyone has had a better preseason than he's had. I put him right there at the top from my perspective with preseason work and how impressed we've been with him."
Costa has been playing with the first team O-line from day one in camp while center Andre Gurode was recovering from offseason knee surgery. Gurode finally returned to practice today and played in his customary spot as the center for the first team O-line, while Costa handled the snaps for the second team. Jones doesn't think Costa will take over from Gurode right away:
"I wouldn't go that far," Jones said. "...But [Costa]'s certainly played well enough to give us enough confidence. And I have addressed that directly with the coaches and they feel the same way."
So where could Costa end up playing, if not at center?
It looks like Costa could be in the mix for a starting spot at left guard, and with Holland continuing to struggle with a back injury, that left guard starting spot could be up for grabs.
"Total possibility," offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. "We're letting things play out as they are, and see Montrae, see how he comes on. There's a lot of moving parts at this point."
With Holland still out, Costa and David Arkin could end up battling for the left guard spot. And while Arkin continued taking first team reps in practice today, Costa's football intelligence could be a big part of why Coast is in the mix, according to Jerry Jones:
"He's very good at quarterbacking, so to speak, in the offensive line. He's quick with his reads and he's clear with the rest of the offensive line. He does an outstanding job there, on identifying the defense. Physically as well as technique, he's playing outstanding in my mind. He's really doing well."
Regardless of whether Costa does eventually start at guard or center, this has to bode well for the Cowboys' O-line depth, which today consists of five players (Parnell, Costa, Nagy, Arkin, Young) who have played in a combined two NFL games.
Of course, if the Cowboys are worried about O-line depth, Brian Waters is still just a phone call away - although it is ironic that last season we were all up in arms about how the Cowboys O-line had been allowed to get so old, and now that it's young, we're calling for some older guys for depth.