Mailbag: Should Phil Costa start?

OXNARD, Calif. -- In the mailbag this week the fans want to know about Phil Costa and why he can't start, and somebody is high on Matt Johnson. Why? There's a question about Orlando Scandrick, too.

Here we go.

Q: Why don't the Cowboys move Phil Costa to guard or have him start at center and move Travis Frederick to guard for this year? It seems as though everyone believes Frederick and Costa are two of the top three interior linemen we have and to have one of them not start doesn't make sense. Andy Dolloph (Salem, Va.)

A: The Cowboys drafted Fredeick to play center, not guard, and he's a better center than he is a guard. Costa is better at center than he is at guard, but he's not better than Frederick. Ronald Leary, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau are better guards than Costa. You want the best five offensive linemen on the field and right now that's Tyron Smith at left tackle, Leary at left guard, Frederick center, Bernadeau right guard and Doug Free right tackle. Now the Cowboys are looking to upgrade the offensive line and could sign Brian Waters.

Q: Which tight end will separate himself and be the No. 2 by the end of the year? James Hanna or Gavin Escobar? John Herr (Norfolk, Va.)

A: Hanna is ahead of Escobar on the depth chart. He's a better route runner and blocker. Escobar is still learning the position and can only improve with more snaps. He's got three more preseason games to do that. He's just not ready to beat out Hanna, who has performed well in training camp.

Q: Calvin, I'm high on Matt Johnson. Do you believe as I do and hope that he'll start for us at some point this season? Nebe Ermyas (Silver Springs, Md.)

A: What have you seen in Johnson to give you this hope? He's hurt again -- a stress fracture that's keeping him off the field. Johnson picked off one pass in training camp and almost got hurt at the end of the play. We want to believe in Johnson's abilities to make plays on the ball, but his health is keeping him off the field. It's hard to have confidence in a player when he can't play.

From Twitter:

Q: Any chance they keep 4 backs (on) the roster? @AKky84 Shrugpolean Dynamite

A: That's the plan, but I wonder if that's the right way to go. The Cowboys might need to go heavy along the offensive line and maybe keep six wide receivers, leading toward Anthony Armstrong here, so it would mean go with three running backs. The four running backs to make the team, DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle, have been good in training camp and the two preseason games. Special teams play keeps Tanner on the team, but I don't see how Randle gets game reps if you have four on the roster.

Q: Where has Orlando Scandrick been? @MMastropiero Mike Mastropierro

A: Scandrick, the slot corner, has played well in training camp and in the two preseason games. It's easy to forget about him sometimes with so much attention devoted to Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. But Scandrick is solid in pass coverage and on the blitz. He's got a quite a few pass breakups; some should have been interceptions, but his ball awareness is very good.