OXNARD, Calif. – Sunday’s preseason opener against the Dolphins could best be described as a game in which the starters didn’t play.
However, when it’s all said and done and five preseason games are in the books, we might look back on the 24-20 win over Miami and remember a starter who took every offensive rep.
Because if the Cowboys had it their way, Ron Leary could very well be the starting guard when the team plays New York in the Sept. 8 opener.
Leary played the entire game Sunday and helped pave the way for a rushing attack that included 170 yards.
After the game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked if he was comfortable starting Leary and he was quick to answer with a yes. However, he followed it up with Leary needing to win the job.
But as long as Nate Livings, who had minor knee surgery last week, and Mackenzy Bernadeau, who is expected to finally return in full this week from a hamstring injury, leave the door open for Leary, the second-year guard from Memphis will gladly step in.
“You never want to see a guy hurt or anything,” Leary said. “But the goal is to start. You always want to start. I’m going to keep working hard and try to get to that goal.”
Leary suffered a calf injury at the start of training camp and missed the first 10 days of practice, seemingly wasting a golden opportunity to take first-team reps with the two starters out.
But he has now returned and was more than solid in his return.
“I liked the way we ran the football,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I think (Leary) did some nice things from what I could tell. But the fact we had some success is a good indication of how played.”
And Leary wasn’t the only guard who stood out Sunday night. David Arkin also played well on the right side. He played most of the game and had plenty of favorable moments.
The guard situation is indeed up for grabs and the injuries to the starters only complicate matters.
But it’s leaving the door open for the young guys. Leary playing the entire game like he did only increases his chances of becoming a starter in Week 1.
“I know I have to keep grinding,” Leary said. “We want to be a physical team. That’s the way I like to play. We were able to do that (Sunday night). But I’m not satisfied. I have a lot of work to do to get better and I plan on working hard to get there.”