News: SAEN: Another big challenge awaits offensive line in Week 2

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  1. NewsBot

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    IRVING – The sight of Tony Romo writhing in pain after getting sandwiched between two New York Giants pass rushers late in the first half of the season opener sparked emotional reactions from the Dallas Cowboys.

    Owner Jerry Jones said his “heart stopped.” Coach Jason Garrett said he immediately thought, “Get Kyle Orton ready.” Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said he was “mad.”
    “We’ve got to do a better job of blocking for him,” Hatcher said. “We need that guy. He’s a great quarterback.

    “And if he goes down, the team is going to go down.”

    Fortunately for the Cowboys, Romo returned to start the third quarter and is expected to be ready for the team’s Week 2 visit to Kansas City after X-rays on his ribs came back negative.

    Whether he finishes the game, though, is another matter.

    Dallas allowed only two sacks, prompting Garrett to gush about the offensive line.
    “For those guys to hold up against that front, that’s pretty good,” he said of a front wall that included two players making their first NFL starts: rookie center Travis Frederick and second-year left guard Ron Leary. “Those are big, strong, explosive guys who have played in this league for a long time, and, for the most part, we blocked them pretty well, particularly in pass protection.”

    But the challenges keep coming, starting with the Chiefs, who sacked Blaine Gabbert six times in punishing Jacksonville 28-2 on the road in Week 1.

    Outside linebacker Justin Houston notched three of the sacks. The Cowboys must also contend with two-time Pro Bowler Tamba Hali, who is fourth on the Chiefs’ all-time sack list, and a slew of other strong pass rushers, including nose tackle Dontari Poe, inside linebacker and Texas-ex Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry.

    But Garrett is confident the line will continue to protect Romo.

    “(That they allowed only two sacks against New York) is a tribute to Travis Frederick and Ron Leary,” Garrett said. “Those guys played well. They are big, strong guys in there and they did a good job not getting knocked back into the quarterback and they were firm in protection throughout the game. Tony had a lot of opportunity. If you watch there were a number of passes where he is standing there and he looks, he looks, looks over here, looks over there, and finds the third or fourth guy in his progression.

    “Those guys stood up well. I think the conditioning part of it with us running some no-huddle and all that played a part in that because (the Giants pass rushers) were not coming off the ball quite as explosively as they normally would. But those guys did a good job of standing in there. We were as firm as we’ve been in a long, long time.”

    And the wall could get even firmer with the addition of six-time Pro Bowler Brian Waters, who would replace Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard, joining Frederick, Leary and tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free.

    Bernadeau practiced with the first-team Wednesday, but the Cowboys are hopeful Waters will be ready to play this week after sitting out all of last season for personal reasons.

    And should injuries deplete the line like they did in training camp? There’s always a volunteer ready to fill in.

    “Put me in at guard, I’ll cut (block) somebody,” Hatcher said. “We don’t need (Romo) getting banged up at all.”

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