Offensive guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings are playing for their jobs. No, they aren’t in danger of being cut (see note below for why), but they are in danger of losing their status as starters. Both guards are missing much needed practice time while their understudies are slowly gaining ground.
This all sounds eerily similar to last season when injuries sidelined the same gentlemen for most of the offseason and preseason. Last season many of their struggles were simply because they were never able to build cohesiveness with their linemates. Blitzers came through the middle untouched and both the passing and running game suffered as a result. To make matters worse, Bernadeau returned to the lineup out of shape and weak. He was often overpowered at the line and pushed back into the pocket.
Injuries keep players from meaningful weight room time and conditioning. When a player returns from injury they still need to overcome those. In addition, Livings and Bernadeau never gained more than a basic understanding of Bill Callahan’s zone blocking scheme. It improved as the year progressed but at year two, they are nowhere close to where they should be.
Romo can afford to miss practice. He has established himself. Witten, Bryant, Vickers, they all have proven they know what they’re doing and they are undisputed starters. They can miss a little practice. Bernadeau and Livings? They have a long way to go and missing practice time is just making it worse.
Note: Both Bernadeau and Livings would cost more cap dollars to cut than they would to keep. The contracts they signed prior to the 2012 season are structured to be guaranteed two year contracts. In year three (2014) of their contracts they can be prematurely terminated with minimal salary cap impact.
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