It was just one short year ago the Dallas Cowboys had two starting caliber left guards on their roster, with one looking to be traded for an opportunity to play elsewhere. Now, they are looking for the next starter at the spot, and due to some extraneous factors have turned to an unfamiliar face.
Today, newly signed offensive lineman Byron Bell split first team reps with Thursday night’s starter Jonathan Cooper.
Seemed to be an even 50-50 split of reps for Byron Bell and Jonathan Cooper at LG. Still a long way to go before that’s sorted out. #Cowboys
The former Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans offensive lineman was considered a disappointment during his previous employment, but that does not mean he can’t turn it around in Dallas.
The main reason he struggled so mightily during previous years was that he was asked to primarily play tackle. Though he does possess massive size, Bell’s athleticism and fluidity of feet is lacking, which caused some issues on the outside.
He was a much more consistent and a higher quality player when at guard, which appears to be where the Cowboys want to give him his chance.
I did not think Jonathan Cooper played poorly during the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals by any means. In fact, he came through with a few solid reps in pass protection. Still, he tends to be on the ground far too often, and struggled a bit when run blocking in the zone scheme. Most of Cooper’s issues seem to stem from his balance, something he has struggled with throughout his entire NFL career.
Of course, just because Bell is taking reps does not mean that he has won the job, but it does show the Cowboys are nowhere near being comfortable with simply handing the job to Cooper following Chaz Green’s injury.
This now seems like a three-man race to start at left guard, and it will be very interesting to watch it play out over the coming weeks.