What About Right Tackle?

The offseason improvement for the Dallas Cowboys has been well-documented, yet one clear question still remains: who will step up and become the starting right tackle?

With defense being the biggest scapegoat for a 6-10 record in 2004 and with the expected change from the 4-3 to the 3-4, improving on that side of the ball was the primary focus of the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys.

However, the Cowboys were able to fill some holes and answer some questions on offense, with the biggest move coming at quarterback.

The Cowboys signed veteran Drew Bledsoe to replace Vinny Testaverde as the team's starting signal caller, reuniting Bledsoe with Bill Parcells, who drafted him first overall with the Patriots.

Bledsoe was available after being released by the Bills, who decided to go younger at quarterback.

The Cowboys don't expect Bledsoe to have to carry the offense. The running game, led by second-year back Julius Jones, will be the primary weapon.

The other big free agent move on offense was at right guard, where the Cowboys signed Marco Rivera away from the Green Bay Packers.

Rivera, a four-time Pro Bowler, replaced Andre Gurode in the starting lineup, giving the Cowboys one of the league's most impressive guard tandems with perennial Pro Bowler Larry Allen.

The Cowboys also signed veteran free agent running back Anthony Thomas to back up Jones. The powerful Thomas will be the short-yardage and goal line back while serving as a change of pace to the jitterbug style of Jones.

Improvement from within should come with the return to health of tight end Dan Campbell and receiver Terry Glenn, who both missed the bulk of last season with foot injuries.

The biggest remaining question on offense is at right tackle. Torrin Tucker, Jacob Rogers, Kurt Vollers, Ben Noll and Rob Petitti will compete for the job in training camp. But if no one from this unproven mix emerges, Allen could be moved to right tackle with Gurode or Stephen Peterman filling in at left guard.

After the Cowboys' mini-camp two months ago, Parcells expressed disappointment in the overweight Tucker, but he also hinted that Noll had been impressive at times during the last part of the 2004 season.

In other words, this position battle won't be decided until the end of training camp, and trying to predict the eventual starter is like playing Russian Roulette.

On special teams, Billy Cundiff will open his third straight season as the Cowboys kicker. However, he will be given a short leash by Parcells with the powerful rookie, Brett Visintainer, showing promise.

CowboysHQ Top Stories