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Despite Late Game Pressure, Cowboys Offensive Line Showing Drastic Improvement

One of the hardest things for a football team to overcome is an offensive line unfamiliar with each other. The Dallas Cowboys completely rebuilt theirs on the fly over the shortened offseason, jettisoning several veterans and rolling with unproven rookies and little-used players.

Former Pro Bowl players C Andre Gurode and RG Leonard Davis were released in salary cap saving manuveurs as their performance no longer dictated their large contracts. RT Marc Colombo was no longer capable of manning a quarterback's blindside, as witnessed by his continued struggles in the train wreck of a line that former Cowboys coordinator Tony Sporano is working with in Miami. The man everyone expected to be the next man up at guard, Montrae Holland, showed up to camp overweight and was left behind after he suffered an injury that kept him ou.

In their place, Dallas shuffled in rookies Tyron Smith and Bill Nagy, as well as second-year pro Phil Costa. Together, they had 109 snaps of NFL experience, all owned by Costa.

They struggled early in the season. Week 1, they protected QB Tony Romo against the Jets, but couldn't establish any semblance of a run game. Week 2, they couldn't do either and allowed the 49ers to break a Romo rib, puncture a Romo lung and seperate Felix Jones' shoulder. Week 3 against the Redskins they finally were able to open some running lanes, but Phil Costa's snap problems and double digit quarterback pressures showed things still weren't right.

Well, they finally put it together against Detroit. At least mostly.

The team was supposedly facing their stiffest competition in Detroit's front four, but only relinquished six quarterback pressures on the game. They also blocked for over 4 yards per attempt in the running game.

They performed admirably until the final two drives of the game. Kyle Kosier allowed Ndamakong Suh one of his few pressures and would've been flagged for holding if Romo hadn't been intercepted by LB Stephen Tullock, Romo's third of the game. Rookie RT Tyron Smith played an almost perfect game until getting bowled over by Willie Young to give up a sack on Romo. There were more fairy tales that came to a crashing end than just Romo's All-Pro performance from the first 34 minutes, but this unit has more of an excuse.

The Cowboys hope that the bye week will give this unit a chance to gel even more and they'll come out in Week 6 even further ahead of schedule.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.