Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cowboys C Ryan Cook forced to be a quick study, but early signs could lead to ... - Dallas Morning News

IRVING â€" Eleven days after being traded from Miami to the Cowboys, center Ryan Cook finally found a place to live Tuesday.

Don’t worry, it’s not like Cook has been homeless since arriving in Dallas. He hasn’t exactly been slumming while staying at the Gaylord Texan.

The simple fact is Cook has had very little free time to apartment hunt. He’s been too busy trying to learn the Cowboys’ offense.

Cook has been forced to be a quick study. Three snaps into the season opener last week at the Giants, Cook suddenly found himself as the Cowboys’ No. 1 center. That’s because starting center Phil Costa aggravated his lingering back injury and was gone after the first series.

Cook, who had been with the Cowboys for all of five days, was called upon to direct the offensive line, even though he was still trying to learn his teammates’ names.

The challenge was magnified considering the Cowboys were trying to stop one of the league’s top pass rushes.

“Usually you have the whole training camp to kind of build that continuity with one another,” Cook said. “We kind of did it on the fly.”

The interior of the Cowboys’ offensive line, which struggled most of last season, held up just fine against the Giants. Cook also didn’t have any hiccups snapping the football to Tony Romo despite only snapping to Romo a few times in a walk-through.

The way Cook played against the Giants could mean more playing time for him down the road. What’s certain is that Cook will make his second career start at center Sunday at Seattle and his first since 2010 when he was with Minnesota.

“A week ago, he was on a different team. That really is incredible, the ability to come in and have poise,” Romo said on KTCK-AM 1310. “That just shows you how someone must have studied and taken the game seriously even in a backup situation. That’s outstanding. Now that’s the kind of guy you want on your football team. I was proud of him.”

With 10 days between games, Cook hasn’t been slacking off preparing for the Seahawks. Even though the Cowboys received last weekend off, Cook kept his head buried in his iPad studying the team’s offensive plays.

Cook said he’s able to process information more quickly because this is his third team and his seventh season in the NFL.

“The NFL is all about concepts: concepts of running and passing the ball. So if you can delineate those concepts, then you can kind of create a smaller window, a smaller picture for you to look at,” Cook said. “Once you do that, it makes it a little bit easier transition.

“Now, everybody calls everything 200 different things, so that’s where the real factor comes in in learning [offensive plays] and learning how to use them in a proper manner to direct people, especially at center. That’s where the big learning curve comes in.”

In a three-day span two weeks ago, Cook’s world was flipped upside down.

He started at center for Miami against the Cowboys in the final preseason game on a Wednesday night. By early Friday morning, he had been traded to the Cowboys and was on a flight back to Dallas.

Coach Jason Garrett said Cook is a player the Cowboys have had their eyes on for several years because he can play center, guard and tackle.

“We felt like he could pick things up quickly if we brought him in here,” Garrett said. “He’s really proven that he can learn things quickly.”

Cook has had no choice.

The Cowboys had seven pre-snap penalties against the Giants: five false starts and two delay of games. Cook said he was “fairly comfortable” under center against the Giants.

“I have to do better at communication and getting everybody on the same page,” Cook said. “I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn.”

Two weeks in, however, Cook has already caught owner Jerry Jones’ eye.

“I thought it was amazing that he was able to come in and play,” Jones said. “I’m really proud we’ve got him.”

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