The Dallas Cowboys are anxiously thin at guard, with Nate Livings, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook and Ray Dominguez all out with injury. Mackenzy Bernadeau, last years starter at right guard, has been practicing only a week.Quarterback Tony Romo, who will get his first taste of live action Friday night at Oakland, said he didnt have input as the Cowboys searched for guards this week, but hes optimistic about what the team does have.Im excited about the way the guys up front have been doing, Romo said after Thursdays walk-through. Theyve been working hard, theyre getting better. Its been a good camp for them. Obviously, wed like to have a few less injuries. But thats part of the game. Weve just got to keep grinding away and keep getting better until we can continue to see some guys get healthy. And then, at the same time, some other guys have stepped up, and well see what happens.At least Romo will have starting tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free, plus center Travis Frederick, who despite being a rookie, has seemingly settled that position for the Cowboys unless the injury or performance situation at guard gets worse and he is needed there.They picked a good one there, Romo said of the former Wisconsin center, generally rated a second- or third-round pick but taken in the first round by the Cowboys. Hes going to be a guy whos going to help us a lot for a long time. I dont know whether people are talking about whether or not we reached for him and stuff like that, I guess, at the time. But hes a good football player. We got a good first-round draft pick right there.At 312 pounds, Frederick provides the base that owner Jerry Jones has talked about trying to secure for Romo.Hes still growing as a player, Romo said. Hes still got a lot of things to learn in the NFL. But hes a smart kid. Hes got a good anchor. Hes strong. Hes tough. Hes got a good future.In the preseason opener without Romo, the Cowboys ran more than they passed. Romo, who last year had the 10th-most pass attempts in NFL history (648), said that is fine with him.If you run the ball well, were going to keep calling the runs, he said. We need to run the ball better this year just in general. To me, thats an important aspect of what were trying to do, and we need to do that.But Romo cautioned against reading too much into one preseason game, whether it was last weeks or this weeks.I think sometimes well just jump to too many conclusions us as well as you guys based on it, he said. Were going to be good, youre not going to be that good. More than anything you just want to have good execution. You want to be able to do things. Youre not game planning per se and having the stuff that youre really going to attack certain coverages and certain teams a certain way. So you get a little vanilla with what you may call. Youd like to get into a rhythm, but I just think we need to go out there and execute right way and do things that we feel good about as far as doing our assignments right and getting through stuff quickly and just not having any mental errors.Whether you scored the touchdown or field goal, were going to look at it and dissect it, and were going to feel the same way a lot people are. But we just need it as an improvement factor right now.Briefly• The Cowboys released former TCU offensive lineman Jeff Olson on Thursday. • Brandon Carr returned to camp after spending the past two days at home with his fiancee and his newborn son, Austin, who was born Monday.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez