Posted: 6:16 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013
By Tom Ryle
For all NFL teams, when some players go down, it causes their' fans' hearts to skip a beat. Usually, it is the franchise quarterback or some other established star the team really would have a hard time replacing. (For the latest example, check out this video from the New England Patriots' training camp. That guy in the red jersey who winds up grabbing his knee is named Tom Brady.)
Fans of the Dallas Cowboys felt a little of that same emotion when reports came out that one of the players was getting an MRI on his knee. But it wasn't QB Tony Romo, or WR Dez Bryant, or DE DeMarcus Ware, or even LT Tyron Smith. It was LG Ronald Leary.
The fact that news of a possible injury to an undrafted free agent lineman, who is looking forward to his first action this year after not playing last season, could send a shiver of fear down our backs tells you about all you need to know about the issues the Cowboys have had with the offensive line so far this year. And for the past several seasons.
While Jason Garrett was optimistic in stating that this is not related to the degenerative knee condition that kept Leary from getting drafted (and it is the same knee, the left), that is not a final medical opinion. I certainly hope Garrett is right and this is just a minor issue that will not keep Leary playing when the games really count. But right now, Leary appears to be the best guard the Cowboys have on the roster. If something should happen to him, the team will be left with David Arkin to come in. And Arkin has been working at right guard so far this camp.
Even if Leary is expected to be ready for the regular season, there is still a question of who will line up for the Cowboys in the remaining three pre-season games. The team is in talks with Brian Waters to try and sign him, but Waters has a widely known case of Favre Disease. (That's a reference to a hatred of all training camp and preseason activities and practices, not a lack of judgement in sending inappropriate selfies, which is called Weiner Syndrome.) It is likely that even if the team gets Waters signed and he does become part of the answer at guard, the team is still going to have to get through the pre-season without him. This could easily leave Tony Romo's health and well-being in the hands of Arkin and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Go back and look at that video of Brady going down. He was hit by a lineman who was pushed back into him. Scary.
Leary was looking like part of the solution, with a very, very solid camp. But injuries have been ruining any attempt to build depth, with Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook and Nate Livings all out. Now the team has to hope that Leary will be back soon, and if he isn't, that a patchwork line can keep the franchise quarterback healthy. It is not a comfortable place to be.