The Cowboys offensive line was a big question mark entering the season and we're not any closer to getting answers.
Left guard Bill Nagy joined Phil Costa and Tyron Smith on the injury list Wednesday with a neck injury, forcing the team to use Derrick Dockery with the first team for part of practice. There's no determination on Nagy's status for Sunday's game with the 49ers as yet, which could mean that the Cowboys will have a different starting lineup than the one they rolled out against the Jets.
There's plenty of reason to believe that the line could perform better with Dockery in the lineup than they did in Week One. He's still learning the playbook and adapting his game to a new system, but guys who have 111 NFL starts under their belts tend to know a few more tricks than rookies plucked out of obscurity in the seventh round of the draft.
That said, there's also reason to be concerned about another change to a line that has had precious little time to develop the cohesion and communication essential to success. More than any other position group on the team, offensive linemen need to feel comfortable with the guy next to them so that they can be sure that the defense will blocked up correctly. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck expounded on this point on Wednesday.
"You want to have guys who can communicate together," Houck said. "Communication sometimes on the right side is different than communication on the left side. You need guys in there who can work together in any environment, whether in an office environment, whether in a family environment, communication is pretty important."
In a regular offseason, the Cowboys would have had plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons of playing Dockery over Nagy. Right now, everything has to come on the fly and that will necessitate changes to the playbook that protect Tony Romo and Felix Jones from mistakes that can land them on the injured list themselves.
You saw that on Sunday night when every pass play that took more than a second or two to develop usually wound up with Romo feeling pressure from an offensive line not yet ready to provide him that kind of time. The passing game went well enough, especially when you consider the kind of defense the Jets have, but if the line is constantly in flux there won't be a chance to progress as an offense to the level needed to win games every week.