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Friday’s NFL: Cowboys face line trouble

August 25, 2018

Frisco, Texas — Four of the Dallas Cowboys’ five starting offensive linemen are dealing with injuries.

Left tackle Tyron Smith missed the last two days of practice while nursing a sore hamstring and right tackle La’el Collins was out Friday with a calf contusion and an illness.

Right guard Zack Martin is out until the start of the regular season with a hyper-extended knee and center Travis Frederick is out indefinitely with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

If there was ever any question about quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott playing in Sunday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, that answers it.

Coach Jason Garrett said no official decision has been made. But owner Jerry Jones was pretty definitive about sitting Prescott and not risking his quarterback to injury. Elliott did not play in the first two preseason games and the Cowboys have long taken a minimalist approach to his reps in the preseason.

“There’s a good chance,” Jones said of Prescott sitting on his radio show Friday. “I don’t think we’ve completely decided yet, and that is Jason’s (Garrett) call by the way. But I think we’ll be pretty conservative here.”

The Cowboys don’t believe there is any need to use the game to get extra reps with Prescott and center Joe Looney, who is filling in for Frederick. Garrett said the team will get enough in practice and Prescott said the two have good chemistry from his rookie season when he played behind Tony Romo in OTAs and minicamp before being named the starter.

The big concern remains the team’s ability to handle adversity up front, considering that Smith’s absence last year proved to be the impetus of a three-game losing streak that derailed the season into a 9-7 finish and out of the playoffs.

It started with a loss to Atlanta when the Cowboys allowed eight sacks, including four by Chaz Green, who replaced Smith in the game.

The Cowboys worked all offseason to improve their depth up front, signing tackle Cam Fleming and guard/center Marcus Martin in free agency.

Martin got hurt in training camp and now Frederick is out indefinitely.

Jones believes the Cowboys are better equipped to handle adversity this year because of changes made on the coaching staff that will allow them to adjust.

He said that Atlanta experience is “gone with the wind.”

“You do lose people ... you’re supposed to make adjustments, we didn’t adjust,” Jones said of last season. “That really, really was a focal point of our offseason.

“Just to remember ... We don’t want to have another Atlanta happen to us. ‘The Burning of Atlanta.’ That was called ‘the Burning of Atlanta.’ Gone with the wind.”

Personnel dept.

The Colts have signed cornerback Juante Baldwin and placed quarterback Brad Kaaya on the waived-injured list.

... The Browns escaped a preseason quarterback swap. Tyrod Taylor isn’t expected to miss any time — and is still in line to start the Sept. 9 season opener against Pittsburgh — after dislocating his left pinky and bruising his hand in Thursday’s 5-0 win over Philadelphia.

... The Jets signed former Chiefs running back Charcandrick West, who was waived by Kansas City two days ago.

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