Ryan Cook was traded to the Cowboys on Aug. 30. Six days later, after only three plays of the season opener, he was in the game at center. Cook, who had taken only 10 or so snaps with starting quarterback Tony Romo in a walk-through practice before being thrown into the fire, played 65 of the team's 68 snaps.
"I thought it was amazing that he was able to come in and play [like he did]," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who gave up a seventh-rounder to the Dolphins for Cook. "Everyone knew how smart he is as a football player. He’s got some anchor, got some size. All of that is a plus. I'm really proud we've got him."
Jones said he does not expect starting center Phil Costa to play this week after Costa tweaked his back. Costa missed the first three preseason games because of the injury. That means Cook will start his second career game at center.
Cook started for the Vikings at center against the Jets on Oct. 11, 2010. He has made 39 other starts at guard and tackle.
"That’s why they brought me here," Cook said. "I’m a veteran guy. I’ve been around for a while. Being thrown in those situations, it is important to be able to respond, and I felt like I responded fairly well [against the Giants], but I still have things to improve on."
Costa's absence means the Cowboys' starting offensive line does not have a single player in the same position as last season. Doug Free has moved from left tackle to right, switching places with Tyron Smith, and the team's guards, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, were acquired in free agency.
Cook is ready to do his part for his new team, just as he was Wednesday at MetLife.
"I’ve been around for a while," Cook said. "I always prepare that way, because you never know. You’re always one play away. In that instance, in the game against the Giants, I was three plays away. That’s always my focus week in and week out to prepare like I’m going to play in the game, and if you’re called upon, it’s your duty to go out there and to perform at a high level."
-- Charean Williams