Offense under the spotlight

Now that Tony Romo survived a game playing behind a makeshift offensive line, the Cowboys' top concern has become getting an offense in rhythm and finally on a roll.

The Cowboys have looked nothing like the explosive, fine-tuned attack that finished second in the NFL in offense last season.

Certainly, part of the problem appears to be obvious — the first-team offense simply hasn't gotten a lot of work. And as little as there has been to see of the group, there's has been even less to like.

The Cowboys got a little salve for their existing wounds last week against the Chargers, namely in the form of a 9-yard touchdown pass from Romo to No. 1 wide receiver Miles Austin. It was the first score by the first-team offense in three preseason games. It also quieted some of the concerns about the team's inability to score touchdowns in the red zone, which drew attention dating back to last season.

"Yeah it was good to score," Romo said. "We needed a touchdown, just for confidence in the preseason but also in this game. But we struggled a little bit in the beginning (and) we needed to do something good there."

The bottom line is that the Cowboys' offense hasn't been good overall in the preseason. That includes the running game. With multiple changes on the offensive line precipitated by injuries — Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier are likely to be sidelined at least until the opener with knee injuries — it might take even more time together for the offense to jell.

Running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones continued a preseason-long theme of struggling to consistently gain yards on the ground.

Barber has 25 yards on eight carries in preseason and Jones has 15 on six carries. They rushed a total of six times for 17 yards against the Chargers.

"We all talk about physical — running the ball physically," owner Jerry Jones said. "After tonight, I would say we need to make sure we get in here and play physical as we're running the ball."

* Owner Jerry Jones was very impressed with backup quarterback Jon Kitna, who turns 38 in September. Kitna completed 9 of 15 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. Jones was most impressed with a ball Kitna threw away.

"As a matter of fact, I'm going to sleep better about the quarterback tonight than I've slept this year, because I thought Kitna did an outstanding job," Jones said. "You may have noticed when he scrambled out, had some pressure on him, threw the ball out of bounds. That's what you want to see. You can't get that in practice with that kind of pressure. We want to make sure that when you're 37, you've got your legs and he's still got his legs. That was impressive to see."

* CB Cletis Gordon continued what has been a strong training camp with spectacular one-handed interception against the Chargers. Gordon has a training camp-high 14 interceptions in practice. Roy Williams said he has nicknamed him "Int" for his penchant for picks. He has gone from roster long shot to a roster lock.

* The Cowboys have emphasized forcing turnovers on defense after having just 21 all last season. So far so good. They had three against the Chargers and now have seven for the preseason in three games. They had three in four preseason games last season.

"We gave up seven points (in the first half), which is not like us, but we also created two turnovers," linebacker Bradie James said. "That's a positive and goes to show you that we have some work to do."

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