What do we do at Left Guard …
Propped up by two crutches, Kyle Kosier couldn't believe he'll miss four to six weeks with a hairline fracture in his right foot.
"I've been inactive only one game in my career," the Cowboys' starting left guard said. "But what do you do? You move on and get better."
The team's offensive line is the latest group to have its depth tested this August. The cornerbacks, receivers and linebackers have all gone under the microscope, and nobody's panicked yet. That was the case again Monday.
Pat McQuistan, Joe Berger and Cory Procter will all play left guard in Thursday's preseason finale against Minnesota. Coach Wade Phillips left no doubt that whoever plays the best against the Vikings will start the season opener in Cleveland.
"It will be a good opportunity to show what they can do," Phillips said. "I think the tape will sway us one way or the other or keep us on whoever we thought was going to be there in the first place."
Whoever starts in Cleveland will be sandwiched by two Pro Bowlers. Center Andre Gurode has started 74 games in his six-year career. Left tackle Flozell Adams is considered one of the best in the NFL.
Familiarity is critical to a successful offensive line.
Kosier has started between Gurode and Adams the last two years and knows what to do when Gurode changes the blocking schemes before the snap. He also knows how to work with Adams to stop stunting defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers.
"It's going to be an adjustment," Adams said, "but it won't be anything like 2002. Larry [Allen] got hurt that year, and we must have used five guys – and some of them were coming off the
street. Now, that was hard."
Procter played guard and tackle at Montana. He's practiced at guard with the Cowboys and developed into Gurode's backup.
Peter King recognizes the true genius of Pro Football Prospectus …
Stat of the Week
Five of my favorite meaningful stats from this year's indispensable Pro Football Prospectus 2008, courtesy of indefatigable writer/researcher Aaron Schatz:
1. New England was the first team in NFL history to use the shotgun on more than half of all offensive plays last year. Shotgun snaps in the league rose from 19 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2007.
2. Chad Pennington had eight passes dropped by his receivers, meaning 3.1 percent of his passes were dropped, the lowest percentage in the NFL. Eli Manning had a league-high 9.3-percent drop rate by his receivers -- 49 in all.
3. Indianapolis led the league in single-back formations for the third straight year in 2007.
4. The Steelers didn't abandon the power-run under Mike Tomlin. Not at all. In 2007, 48 percent of Steelers plays were carries by backs, the highest percentage in the NFL, including a league-high 60 percent of plays on first down.
5. The Chargers could be in big, big trouble without Shawne Merriman if he chooses to have knee surgery for two torn ligaments. You wouldn't guess this, but last year San Diego was the only defense in the AFC that hurried the opposing quarterback on less than 10 percent of all pass plays.
Texas and FAU? These two teams hate eachother! …
People have questioned Texas' toughness before, although the comments have usually come from somewhere in the known football universe.
Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger calling out the Longhorns from the football hotbed of Boca Raton last week had a different feel, even if the talk came from a familiar face.
In his own way, Schnellenberger, a Bear Bryant disciple, may have done Texas a favor. If the Longhorns, faced with depth chart uncertainty, might have been looking past a Sun Belt opponent, they aren't now.
The comments first surfaced in the FAU student newspaper.
The video evidence came next, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post. The silver-haired Schnellenberger sat in an oversized leather chair holding court while flashing coaching championship rings from the University of Miami and the Miami Dolphins.
"Texas is a very polished team that has great talent," Schnellenberger part drawled, part growled in a voice that cried out for subtitles. "Texas has never been a tough team, a physically tough team.
"And that's what we've got to be. When my defense will get to the point where I think it will get, we'll be mean, nasty, ornery bastards. And that's what you need to beat Texas."
In a phone interview Monday, Schnellenberger clarified the quote.
Texas is a flagship program in a great football state, he said.
"We can't match up with them in talent, so we have to match up with them in some other way," Schnellenberger said. "That's not their long suit. It's probably not the long suit of most teams that have a lot of talent."
Texas offensive tackle Adam Ulatoski has heard similar Longhorn bashing statements before.
"We know people don't like us," he said. "That's everybody – not just Florida Atlantic – so we're going to go out and play the best game we can."
The brief controversy put a focus on Florida Atlantic – an obscure, dangerous opponent. Schnellenberger was hired to build the program from scratch in 1998 after an inglorious one-season meltdown at Oklahoma in 1995.
FAU went 8-5 last season, and beat Memphis in a bowl game. Schnellenberger compares unorthodox 6-5 quarterback Rusty Smith to his old University of Miami quarterback, Bernie Kosar.
While Florida Atlantic allowed 146 points last season in losses to Florida, Oklahoma State and Kentucky, Texas can't afford complacency against the Owls.
After all, the Longhorns still haven't found a featured tailback yet.
And with junior Ishie Oduegwu undergoing surgery on his left shoulder Monday, all five safeties on the depth chart are either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen.
"It's a real concern," coach Mack Brown said.
Big 12 Schedule – Week 1 …looks like all 12 teams take the field before the calendar turns to September…
Most interesting of the slate:
Thursday: Nationally Ranked Wake Forest at Baylor …
Saturday: Illinois vs. Missouri …
Ranking the Big 12 QB’s …
1. Chase Daniel, Missouri: Just seems to have the magic touch to lead his team against practically every opponent -- except maybe Oklahoma.
2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Amazing first-season performance was marred by late injury against Texas Tech. He has the best collection of offensive tools around
him in the conference and could be poised for another big season.
3. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech: Could be in line for a 6,000-yard passing season if he can remain healthy and his team isn't so good that he has to leave games early.
4. Todd Reesing, Kansas: Jayhawks respond to his fiery leadership. And his 33-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio might be the best indication of his abilities. But he might want to avoid Missouri -- He's 14-0 when not playing the Tigers.
5. Colt McCoy, Texas: Has to receive better protection after struggling through sophomore season?
6. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: Most underrated player in the Big 12 and maybe the nation. The Cowboys can't afford to even think about losing him for an extended period.
7. Stephen McGee, Texas A&M: Look for him to flourish in Mike Sherman's pro-style offense, which is more akin to the offense he ran while breaking Texas high school records.
8. Josh Freeman, Kansas State: Thrown to the wolves too early in his freshman season and is playing with his third coordinator in three seasons. But has freakish athletic talents could help him fulfill those lofty NFL ratings his coach always seems to be pushing on the media.
9. Joe Ganz, Nebraska: Passed for big numbers in his three-game starting assignment late last season (1,399 yards, 15 TD passes), but must do a better job of staying away from interceptions. He threw seven during that three-game period -- the same number that Sam Keller threw in the previous seven games.
10. Cody Hawkins, Colorado: Undersized, fiery leader who should improve with a more experienced line and better skill-position players around him.
11. Blake Szymanski, Baylor: Broke most of the school's passing records last season, but will be facing a difficult chore to protect his starting job from Kirby Freeman or Robert Griffin.
12. Austen Arnaud, Iowa State: Looked good in late performances against Kansas State and Kansas last year, but Phillip Bates might have the athleticism to challenge him for the starting job.
Rangers Deal Eddie for a Hamburger! ….Norm laugh here…
Teams had interest in Eddie Guardado a month ago as the non-waiver trade deadline approached, but the Texas Rangers declined all offers because they thought they were playoff contenders.
That belief is long gone, and, as of Monday afternoon, so is Guardado.
The Rangers sent their acting closer and veteran bullpen voice to Minnesota for a rookie-league pitcher. Frank Francisco takes over for Guardado, who started his career in Minnesota and was a two-time All-Star.
Guardado was the Rangers’ best reliever this season and had become an All-Star mentor to, among others, his replacement. The Rangers can’t replace Guardado’s experience but will replace him in the ninth inning with Francisco.
"He was great to me, and I build a lot of confidence from that guy," said Francisco, who is seeking his first career save. "I learned a lot from him. He’s a great guy, a great teammate, and I’m going to miss him."
Guardado, a left-hander, has landed in the thick of a playoff race in Minnesota — which entered Monday a half-game back in the AL Central and a game behind Boston in the wild-card race — and will be eligible for the postseason because he was acquired before Sept. 1.
The Twins made a waiver claim on Guardado and were the only team who could negotiate a trade with the Rangers. General manager Jon Daniels could have withdrawn their waiver request and kept Guardado, but the current slide that has dropped the Rangers below .500 made him expendable.
"That certainly plays into it," Daniels said. "If we were three games out, we wouldn’t be in a position to trade a veteran. But that’s the reality of our situation right now."
Guardado’s former teammates wished him well and were excited to see him with a chance to win an elusive World Series ring.
He left them with several lasting lessons, such as commanding pitches, battling each outing and the importance of sticking to a routine.
Need your hockey pants to feel life? Watch this video …Sean Avery in Stars black at :35 in….
Tommie Harris dances well
Hitler Reviews the Rangers (language alert)