Mackenzy Bernadeau confident he can play center

OXNARD, Calif. -- Phil Costa might have some legitimate competition once Mackenzy Bernadeau begins practicing.

The Cowboys hoped that Bill Nagy and/or Kevin Kowalski would compete with Costa, but the two second-year players are sidelined by ankle injuries. Bernadeau has recovered from hip and knee surgeries and will be ready to begin practicing soon.

Officially, Bernadeau has never played a down of center in the NFL. However, he was the Carolina Panthers’ backup center for the last four years, playing the position in preseason and taking practice reps there each week.

“I’m familiar with the position,” Bernadeau said. “It’s something I can do. I know I can do it. I’ve played it. I’m confident at center.”

Bernadeau said he has been studying to prepare to play both guard spots and center since he signed a four-year, $11 million deal to join the Cowboys.

That versatility is valuable to the Cowboys whether or not Bernadeau starts at center. If Costa gets hurt, Bernadeau can slide over to center, meaning the Cowboys don’t have to carry a backup center on the gameday roster.

The Cowboys could also opt to have Bernadeau be the starting center, perhaps plugging in Derrick Dockery as a starting guard.