Can 'Boys O-Line Be In Your 'Fave Five'?

IRVING, Tex. -- Who's in my Fave Five? Screw basketballers Barkley and Wade. If you have any sense of recent Cowboys history, the answer has to be: Adams, Kosier, Gurode, Davis and Colombo.

The Cowboys have ditched camp in San Antonio and tonight begin the process of readying their all-to-rarely-seen-together offensive line with the first preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champion Colts (7 p.m. at Texas Stadium and nationally televised on FOX). Two weeks into camp and that group had yet to work together at full-speed. … but if they can get it together in the next month, the Cowboys offense might be able to function at full power.

"It's the position group where you really need the most coordination, the kind of coordination that can really only come with live action,'' O-coordinator Jason Garrett tells "That group is going to need some snaps over the next month to be as good at they can be together.''

Coordination between quarterbacks and receivers? Much can be accomplished on 7-on-7 stuff. Defensive alignments? Much of that can be done on a chalkboard. But five guys, working shoulder-to-shoulder in the coal mines of professional sports?

That requires special talent. And time.

Talent, the Cowboys think they have. Right tackle Marc Colombo's initial practice in San Antonio didn't come until Saturday, but he called his return "a smooth transition.'' Recovering from knee surgery, he won't go tonight. Still, there are encouraging signs, with him and elsewhere.

Leonard Davis, the right guard, has been "imposing,'' says head coach Wade Phillips. And while the 6-6, 354-pounder has occasional struggles as a pass-blocker (despite losing 10 pounds from last season in Arizona), he has been Dallas' most impressive blocker in this camp.

Davis, the lone newcomer with a seven-year contract worth almost $50 million (including $18.75 mil guaranteed), has not disappointed. Nor has center Andre Gurode or left guard Kyle Kosier, both also still cashing in on fat contracts. Assuming Colombo is ready to go in a week or so, the Fave Five will be complete for preseason Game 2 with three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams, who is also returning from knee surgery and sitting out tonight. (Kids Doug Free, Pat McQuistan and James Marten will get early turns at the tackles.)

Why does all of this matter right now? In recent years, the Cowboys were well into training camps without knowing:

* Which of multiple choices would be their starting center.

* Whether Larry Allen was to be the team's best blocker or biggest headache.

* Whether there would be a crippling reliance on failed first-day draftees like Peterman and Rogers.

* Whether Parcells "Jersey Guys'' like Petitti and Fabini could play here.

* Whether injuries would allow big-monied signees like Ryan Young and Marco Rivera to play at all.

Four years and look at all those question-marked O-linemen: Al Johnson and Stephen Peterman and Jacob Rogers and Rob Petitti and Jason Fabini and Ryan Young and Marco Rivera and gang, that's a lot of misses in four years.

None of those guys are exactly in your Fave Five, right?

Here's hoping Adams, Kosier, Gurode, Davis and Colombo soon earn the honor.

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