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August 07, 2013

'Rusty' Bernadeau's lack of availability for the second straight year leaves Cowboys refiguring OL plan

Much of what the Cowboys want to do with the offensive line depends on Mackenzy Bernadeau.

But the Cowboys don’t know how much they can depend on him.

For the second straight year, Bernadeau missed the offseason with injuries and is behind in training camp. He began practicing last Friday, and Wednesday was going to be only his third practice.

“He’s a little rusty, there’s no question about that,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The difficult thing with Mackenzy is he played a lot of football for us last year during the season – believe he played in all 16 games – but he missed the offseason leading up to last season, and he’s missed this offseason. So when you miss a lot of that time, that’s really when you can grow and develop. He’s still a young player. Has not started that many games. But injuries have bothered him since he’s been here. So he’s just getting back into the mix again.”

The Cowboys haven’t said whether he will play in Friday’s preseason game against Oakland, but it would be a helpful step. Sunday against Miami, the Cowboys had to use Ron Leary and David Arkin extensively at guard because three others (Nate Livings, Kevin Kowalski, Ray Dominguez and Jeff Olson) are hurt, not to mention tackle Jermey Parnell.

Additionally, the Cowboys missed out on bringing in guard help when Brandon Moore changed his mind Wednesday about signing with the Cowboys.

Right now, the Cowboys have to think about using their prized center, Travis Frederick, at guard and plugging in last year’s starting center, Phil Costa. That is, unless Bernadeau can solidify things at right guard.

“When he played during the season for us, he got appreciably better as the season wore on, and that’s good thing,” Garrett said of Bernadeau, signed as a free agent in 2012 on a four-year deal worth $11.5 million. “He’s still a young player. So we’d just like to get him back in the lineup, get him back taking snaps, breaking the huddle, going to the line of scrimmage, run blocking and pass protecting and learning from the mistakes and growing.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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