ARLINGTON -- Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa has gone from competing for a starting spot with five-time Pro Bowler Andre Gurode to being sidelined for up to a month with a knee injury.
Costa, in his second year from Maryland, suffered a sprained posterior collateral ligament in his right knee Wednesday in practice. It is not expected that he will need surgery, but he could be shelved from two to four weeks.
Costa didn't say anything to team trainers until Thursday. Coach Jason Garrett wasn't made aware until after he had already bragged about Costa's play and said that he was in the mix for Gurode's starting job.
Costa will be sidelined the remainder of the preseason and possibly also the Sept. 11 season opener against the New York Jets, according to sources.
It's a huge blow to Costa, who had worked into a possible starting role, and the Cowboys, who are already thin and inexperienced at spots on the offensive line.
Gurode missed the first three weeks of training camp after off-season knee surgery. Costa worked with the first team in his absence, and the two have split time with the starters since Gurode's return last week.
A year ago, the Cowboys openly talked about making a Super Bowl run.
But after suffering through an embarrassing 6-10 season, the Cowboys are flying under the radar.
While the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and the dream team Philadelphia Eagles are the trendy picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, most prognosticators have the Cowboys in the middle of the pack in the NFC.
"Anything coming from the outside, we feel is unproductive," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We just feel like you need to be great every day, this is how we're going to do things, and if we do things this way that gives us the best chance to be successful."
Training camp unofficially ended on Thursday with a 90-minute workout at Cowboys Stadium, where the Cowboys have trained since officially breaking camp in San Antonio on Aug. 10.
The Cowboys believe they accomplished a lot in the workouts.
"It's been a good camp, but we've got to continue to build on it. It's not over," tight end Jason Witten said. "We're just getting this thing started."
The Cowboys play four consecutive games on the road, starting with Saturday's preseason game at Minnesota, and including their first two regular-season games.
Waiting to play
Linebacker Keith Brooking (hamstring), running back Tashard Choice (calf) and running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) returned to practice this week after being sidelined for the bulk of camp with injuries.
But they have yet to be cleared to play on Saturday against Minnesota.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins (stinger) will not play against the Vikings. Also ruled out is receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and defensive end Marcus Spears (groin).
The Cowboys are hoping that guard Montrae Holland (back) will return to practice next week.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.