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Dallas Cowboys C/G Phil Costa Injures Knee, May Miss 2011 Opener Against New York Jets

Phil Costa, 67,  out for 2-4 weeks.  It's time for the rookie offensive linemen to shine.
Phil Costa, 67, out for 2-4 weeks. It's time for the rookie offensive linemen to shine.

The Dallas Cowboys' second year C/G Phil Costa suffered an injury Thursday.  According to the mothership, the PCL sprain will not require surgery, but will keep him out for 2-4 weeks for rehab.

Along with the three rookie offensive linemen drafted by Dallas, Costa was a key element in the o-line remake going on in Dallas.  A recent FanPost here on BTB by Musiccitynorm breaks down his play by play performance and shows why he was starting to be discussed as a replacement for Andre Gurode as the starting center.

That talk is going to be silenced at least for a couple of weeks while he gets his knee rehabbed.  It also makes the offensive line depth for the Cowboys more worrisome than it was, and increases the importance of the rookie linemen that have been creating so much excitement during the preseason.

One of the unknowns facing the Cowboys going into the regular season is who is going to be at left guard.  It is looking more and more that the coaches are going to roll with first round pick Tyron Smith at RT and veteran Kyle Kosier as RG.  Smith has been opening eyes, and in multiple looks at his play by play performance, such as KD Drummond's most recent one, it is clear that the team is already much better off than it was with Alex Barron playing in the season opener in 2010.  

More on the impact of Costa's injury after the jump

Doug Free has a firm grip on the LT job, and now Gurode will certainly be snapping the ball for the first regualr season game against the Jets.  But the player penciled in as the left guard, Montrae Holland, came to camp out of shape and promptly went out with his own injury issues.  In his absence, Costa and the two rookies David Arkin and Bill Nagy got a lot of playing time at guard and center in the first two preseason games.  Costa has looked very good, Arkin started strong against Denver but had a less impressive game playing the Chargers, and Nagy was bit under the radar and seems to have done a better job in the second preseason game.   For a more extensive view of where the line was before the injury, see Kegbearer's excellent post on fixing the Dallas O line issues.

With Costa now out, Arkin and Nagy both will get more snaps, with Nagy probably becoming the backup for Gurode. Unless Holland gets himself back on the field, which is looking more doubtful as the preseason winds down, it looks quite likely that the Cowboys will start the season with two rookies on the o-line.  Based on the most recent reviews here on BTB, Nagy looks to have the lead for the LG starting job, but Arkin will have a chance to make his own case in the last two preseason contests. 

This also is likely to stir up the discussion of whether Jerry Jones needs to be shopping the free agent market for a veteran lineman or two.  With uncertainty about when Costa and Holland will be ready to go, there may be a real need to get someone in for at least the first month of the season.  And tackle depth is shady, with Sam Young not having a good preseason, leaving UDFA Jermey Parnell as the only other option on the roster.

At least Costa is expected to only miss one or two regular season games at most.  Holland is another question entirely.  If Costa had not gotten hurt, I think Holland was very likely to be cut.  Now, he may be saved at least temporarily by the Costa injury, but I think the reprieve will be short lived.  When Phil gets back, I think there is an excellent chance Montrae will be gone.  

Meanwhile, let us all hope and pray the injury bug goes away.

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