The big takeaway from Saturday night’s preseason opener was the stunning debut of quarterback Dak Prescott. On the other end of the spectrum was the poor showing from offensive tackle Chaz Green.
Getting his name called several times for penalties and also looking lost in the second half, Green was easily the most maligned Cowboy during the game. Part of that comes from expectation; he is a third-round pick in his second year and at a position of need.
While Tyron Smith and Doug Free have the offensive tackle position locked down for 2016, the important “swing tackle” spot behind them is up for grabs. Ideally, a young player like Green would earn this job. It would be a the next step toward him hopefully replacing the 32-year-old Free in the next few seasons.
Our own Kevin Brady did a nice job of breaking down how Green’s night against the Rams wasn’t all bad. As he pointed out, Green’s best play came early in the game against the better competition.
It appears that Green’s problem may be more physical than mental; not yet being in the best shape to play a full game. Thankfully, Dallas isn’t asking that from him in the regular season. However, he still needs to improve in that area and in his overall technique to earn their confidence as the primary backup.
To make matters worse on the OT depth chart, today it was reported that veteran Cameron Bradfield will be released due to an injury. He had been signed just before training camp when Charles Brown, last year’s swing tackle, suddenly announced his retirement.
The Cowboys aren’t strangers to preseason stress at this position. Last August they worked out several tackles and never could find what they were looking for. Dallas entered Week One of the regular season with practice squad graduate Darrion Weems as the swing tackle. However, they signed Charles Brown immediately after the first game.
Cameron Bradfield appeared to be this year’s Brown; a veteran insurance option if younger prospects didn’t develop. Now he’s gone and Chaz Green’s coming off an ugly start to the preseason.
The Cowboys may be in for another scramble to find their 2016 swing tackle.
We can only hope that Green will get coached up and make whatever improvements, both to his technique and his conditioning, are necessary to be a viable backup. If he doesn’t, Dallas will likely be right back to working out veterans and trying to cobble together a depth chart behind Smith and Free.
With Tony Romo’s health such a critical issue, reserve offensive linemen can’t be taken for granted. This is especially true for the guy who might have to protect Romo’s blindside from the league’s premiere pass rushers.
The Cowboys can’t afford to take any chances or be overly patient with Chaz Green. Their scouting department should be doing nothing else right now but looking at offensive tackles throughout the league.
It’s a position where one bad play could end your season.