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Bears hope to exploit Cowboys O-line woes
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo scrambles on the last play of the game as offensive tackle Alex Barron, left, holds Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. A touchdown on the play was negated by Barron's penalty.

 

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Published: 9/16/2010 10:35 PM

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The Cowboys have more than their share of offensive weapons - three talented running backs, three big-play wide receivers and six-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten - at the command of quarterback Tony Romo.

But the Cowboys have been susceptible up front, along an offensive line that has had to deal with injuries and inconsistency. Left guard Kyle Kosier suffered a sprained knee in the preseason and has been rushed back into the starting lineup, although he isn't yet 100 percent. Right tackle Marc Colombo, the Bears' first-round draft choice in 2002, had knee surgery during training camp to remove loose cartilage. He did not play in the season opener but is expected to start against his old team.

Colombo is being hurried back because his replacement, Alex Barron, was called for 3 holding penalties in the final 31 minutes of the season opener, a 13-7 loss to the Redskin. The last infraction negated an apparent game-winning TD pass with three seconds remaining.

Winning that battle may be the Bears' best chance to upset the 9-point favorite Cowboys.

"You're always trying to win that battle up front with our defensive line against their offensive line," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "From what I'm told they're getting their guys back this week.

But we need to win that battle up front."

Northern Illinois' Doug Free, a fourth-year player, got his first-ever NFL start at left tackle last week and will be facing Bears right end Julius Peppers. But the Bears aren't looking at the Cowboys' O-line as a weakness.

"I don't know if you can just pinpoint the offensive line off of one game," nose tackle Anthony Adams said. "It was their first game. It's probably some of the same stuff that they're saying about us up front defensively, as well as offensively

When it's at full strength, the Cowboys' front wall is gigantic and formidable.

"They've got a big offensive line," Adams said. "They're huge up front, and we're going to have our work cut out for us."

Right guard Leonard Davis is 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds. Center Andre Gurode is 6-4 and 318 pounds. Colombo is 6-8 and 320, and Free is 6-6, 320. Kosier is the runt of the litter at 6-5 and 309 pounds. He's the only Cowboys starting offensive lineman who's lighter than the Bears' two heaviest starters, tackles Frank Omiyale and Chris Williams, who both weigh 315.

If Dallas' offensive line is able to keep the Bears' away from Romo long enough for him to utilize all his passing-game options at Cowboys Stadium, it will be a long day for the visitors, especially for the defensive backs.

"I'm too much worried about it," Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. "I'm confident in our front four. Coach (Rod) Marinelli and (defensive line coach Eric Washington) do a good job of keeping those guys with the basic fundamentals, a level rush and things like that. So, as far as covering guys a little bit longer, I think 'Pep' and Tommie (Harris) and those guys are going to get after Romo pretty good. I think they'll make my job a lot easier."

• Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials at DailyHerald.com