O-line looks for leadership without Marc Colombo

SAN ANTONIO – The Cowboys won’t miss Marc Colombo at right tackle. They’re confident they upgraded that position the moment they used the ninth overall pick on Tyron Smith.

That doesn’t mean Colombo will be easily replaced.

Colombo was the unquestioned leader of the offensive line. He didn’t talk much to the media, but Colombo never hesitated to speak up when he had an opportunity to push or help his linemates. His toughness and work ethic gave him the ultimate respect in the locker room.

It’s up to the remaining veterans on the offensive line to make sure there isn’t a leadership void.

“We don’t have a Colombo,” offensive line coach Hudson Houck said, “but guys can lead in their own way.”

Houck said that moments after left tackle Doug Free, now considered a veteran with a season and a half of starting experience, finished a 15-minute, post-walkthrough footwork tutorial session with Smith.

Guard Kyle Kosier plays an important role in the mental development of Smith, fourth-round pick David Arkin and the other young lineman. He often asks questions during meetings because with the intention of accelerating the learning process.

“Kyle knows the answer,” Houck said. “But in the room, he asks the right question.”

Kosier is considered the Cowboys’ most intelligent offensive lineman. That’s why moving him from the left to right side – switching with Arkin, which they did during Monday’s practice – makes sense. That puts him in position to help Smith with his assignment when Tony Romo’s play call sounds like advanced calculus to the rookie.

Free and Kosier declined interview requests Monday. It doesn’t matter whether they talk to the media, but the Cowboys need them to combine with center Andre Gurode to fill Colombo’s shoes as a leader.