Cowboys see finishers in rookie linemen

IRVING, Texas -- For the first time since 1998, the Cowboys took three offensive linemen in a draft: Tyron Smith (first), David Arkin (fourth) and Bill Nagy (seventh).

As head coach Jason Garrett talked about each player, he mentioned how they “finished the play.” When he was a backup quarterback with the Cowboys in the 1990s, he saw linemen like Larry Allen, Nate Newton and Mark Tuinei finish the play.

When Garrett took over as interim head coach from Wade Phillips, one of his immediate changes was to put the players in pads for Wednesday practices. The hitting was not that much different but the mindset was, and the Cowboys ran the ball more effectively in the final eight games.

“You want a physical team,” Garrett said. “You want guys who play with emotion, passion and enthusiasm and it shows up in their play. When you have offensive linemen who can set the tone for your football team, that’s a good thing and a lot of that is how they come off the ball, how they get into their guy and then how they finish the play. You don’t want guys who block their guys initially and then watch the action. That’s not what you want. You want those guys to set the tone for the play and for your football team and finishing has a lot to do with that. That is an emotional thing but it’s also an athletic thing. You need to be athletic enough to finish plays and we feel like these guys are that when you watch them on tape.”