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    Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Interior Offensive Linemen

    While it is accurate to say that the Dallas Cowboys is the best in football from down to , the true greatness of these Space Cowboys is found at and center.

    As I continue my Playoff Primer series, we'll wrap up the offensive line by looking at the embarrassment of riches the Cowboys have on the interior. For my breakdown of the offensive tackles, check out “Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Offensive Tackles“.

    Let's start in the middle.

    Travis Frederick
    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Travis Frederick

    Not only is one of the most talented centers in the league, but he is one of the smartest, making him the perfect center-man for this star-studded offensive line. Perhaps Frederick hasn't gotten enough credit for working with rookie QB Dak Prescott, who has noticeably been making plenty of adjustments at the line before receiving a snap from Frederick.

    Once thought of as a reach when he was drafted in the by Dallas in 2013, Frederick has proven to be an anchor in the middle for the Cowboys. When it comes to the 2016 , he will have an even better chance to prove his worth, as the team's the Cowboys may face all present tough interior defenders.

    Whether it is the 3-4 look of the or another match up with and the , Frederick is going to have his hands full throughout the playoffs – but should be up to the challenge as a blocker that excels with leverage and relatively consistent short-range power.

    Long live the beard.

    Ronald Leary

    Where would the Dallas Cowboys be without ? Once seen as an off season distraction when he held out over losing his job to , Leary is now the starter this at . A veteran that can be trusted, Leary has the luxury of playing between Frederick and Tyron Smith – but individually excels as a run and pass blocker.

    Leary has handled his new situation as a starter like a professional, and even if it just to get paid elsewhere for 2017, he can be a huge part of hopefully guiding the 2016 Cowboys deep into the playoffs.

    Leary did not play in against the Eagles, and had at times before this looked slightly off his game. Hopefully the two weeks off will rejuvenate Dallas' starter at LG, who just consistently blocks any defender thrown at him throughout the day without a worry.

    Zack Martin

    Fun fact: I own a Zack Martin jersey.

    Also a fun fact: Martin is arguably the best guard in the NFL. While puts in work as a reliable left guard, Martin absolutely dominates at the position for the Cowboys on every snap – and has since his rookie year in 2014.

    Just watch the holes that ran through to become this season's rushing champion, and you'll often see a blue #70 in front of him paving a path to the second level.

    Martin is not only an elite run blocker that will thrive this postseason, but he limits pass rushers as soon as he gets his hands on them – a trait that is often thrown around when discussing linemen, but rarely seen at the quality that Martin exhibits.

    Perhaps the biggest difference for the Cowboys going into the 2016 playoffs compared to 2014 is that their workhorse back is much more well-rested. If Zeke Elliott is going to eat his way to Houston and like we all think he's capable of, he will owe a ton of credit (and maybe another ATV?) to Zack Martin.

    Jonathan Cooper

    //insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/film-room-what-can-jonathan-cooper-bring-to-dallas/

    My fellow Staff Writer and New Jersey resident Kevin Brady already did most of the leg work right here when it comes to breaking down what the recently signed can bring to the Cowboys as a backup guard.

    Cooper, a former first round pick, has yet to settle in to a long-term role in the NFL – bouncing around as a guy that always had the potential but lacked the film to match it at this level. Even still, as a backup here in Dallas, Cooper is one of the best players the Cowboys could have brought in to potentially have to fill in at either guard position.

    If called upon in the playoffs, I do worry that Jonathan Cooper may fall behind as a run blocker, with a limited amount of time to learn 's zone blocking scheme. With enough experience and strength though, Cooper is likely as good of a backup lineman as there is to be found on any team currently in the playoffs.

    Joe Looney

    Of all of the talented guards and centers the Cowboys employ, swing man is probably the one you least want to see have to play in these playoffs. Looney does have some game experience that Cooper does not at left guard for the Cowboys, but this experience has only shown that Looney will struggle greatly throughout the course of a game.

    Between the occasional good reps, Looney will get overpowered with bad technique, and more importantly get beat across his face on running plays – a major error in executing the zone scheme.

    Looney's value in Dallas comes from the fact that he can play both guard and center, but since we opened this Playoff Primer praising Travis Frederick and all of his awesomeness, Looney will likely serve as just an emergency guard this postseason.

    La'el Collins

    The X-Factor: La'el Collins

    I'm fascinated to see what the Dallas Cowboys do with La'el Collins in the playoffs. Back to work at practice, Collins doesn't have to worry about preparing himself to start at left guard – as Ron Leary has that spot secured.

    Instead, the Cowboys are going to have to get creative with how they utilize this first-round talent that they signed after the 2015 draft.

    One area this team is thin at right now is , and this sorely misses a versatile TE like that can block on the and present a threat in the . While Collins gives the Cowboys virtually nothing as a pass catcher, lining him up in “Jumbo” sets as a tight end is almost unfair to edge defenders.

    With Elliott in the backfield and Collins on the edge, defenses will have to change their entire look, which could lead to more chances for Dez Bryant and other WRs in single coverage. Collins' best trait is his ability to move and block on the run, so I also wouldn't be surprised to see him out in front of those always well-times toss sweeps.

    It could be a very fun playoff run for La'el Collins, but his role and overall health is uncertain, making him this unit's x-factor.


    As you enjoy Wild Card Weekend, make sure to stay posted to Inside The Star as I round out the offense in this series before moving on to the

    Before kickoff at on January 15th, Playoff Primer will every position on the Cowboys, and you can discuss any of these articles with me on Twitter @ShoreSportsNJ

    spot_imgspot_imgspot_img
    Sean Martin
    Sean Martinhttp://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/
    Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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