OXNARD, California We've seen it so far in the 2014 edition of Cowboys training camp: Offensively, the Cowboys are focused on the guys up front.
'When you hear me talk about some marquee players, some cornerstone players on our team, we feel like we have them up front on our offensive line,' said head coach Jason Garrett.
Ever since taking over the head coaching job three-and-a-half years ago, Garrett has preached the importance of the run. But essentially it was just lip service, because there wasn't enough talent in the trenches and Garrett has admitted it.
'To be honest with you, we didn't allocate the resources enough to be dominant up front,' Garrett told the media in Oxnard. 'We were trying to, but it took time to do that.'
That time, the Cowboys say, is now.
Three of the team's last four top draft choices are all offensive linemen. Left tackle Tyron Smith is vying to be the NFL's best at his position.
This year's number-one cowboys pick Zack Martin seems poised beyond his years; reminds you of center Travis Frederick a year ago. And Frederick has developed into a rock-solid center.
'This is one of the better lines I've had in my career,' said Cowboys line coach and offensive coordinator title-holder Bill Callahan. 'I'm really excited about their growth and their potential, and like seeing them come together and play as a unit.'
'This is the best offensive line we've had in a long time, so I think that gives you a lot of confidence,' and they're the hardest working group on the team,' said tight end Jason Witten.
After learning about the compliment from Witten, Frederick took it in stride. 'You have to prove yourself to earn remarks like that,' he said. 'Certainly it means something coming from Jason. For us we have to come out here and prove every day that we're a good offensive line, and we have to continue to grow.'
Now that they have the tools, the Cowboys have to commit to use them.
DeMarco Murray's exasperation last season during a loss to the Packers caused by an ill-advised late interception is hard to forget. The Cowboys' top runner provided a telling response when asked if he'll believe a run-game commitment when he sees it.
He said, 'Yeah,' started to say something, and then just laughed again saying, 'Yeah, yeah.'
We get it.
Despite Murray averaging more than 5 yards a carry last year, the Cowboys had the second fewest rushing attempts in the league. Perhaps that's another reason why this is the year they'll finally opt to be more balanced.
'Your demeanor on offense can change,' said Garrett. 'You can run the ball better; you can dominate the game; you can be more physical throughout the game to wear a team down at the end of the game.'
Translation: Run more and take some pressure off the quarterback. Possess the ball and take pressure off the defense.
Because, goodness knows, they'll need to do that.