Thursday, September 13, 2012

New center Ryan Cook has been forced to be a quick study, but quickly finding ... - Dallas Morning News (blog)

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 that 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 Wednesday at the Giants, Cook suddenly found himself as the Cowboys’ No. 1 center. That’s because Cowboys starting center Phil Costa aggravated his lingering back injury and was gone after the first series.

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

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 quicker because this is his third team and his seventh season in the NFL.

“The NFL is all about concepts: concepts of running the ball, concepts of 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.”

So, Cook said basic concepts in NFL offenses translate from team to team, but the language from team to team is totally different and that’s where it takes time to get everything down. That’s especially true for the starting center, who has to direct traffic up front with line calls that effect the entire unit.

This is Cook’s third NFL team in seven seasons in the league and he said it’s become “a little bit easier” in learning a new offense with experience.

“The older I’ve gotten and the longer I’ve been in the NFL it’s a little bit easier,” Cook said. “It’s not like you walk in and it’s ready to go.  You have to put some time and effort into it. Just growing up and learning and maturing in the NFL and making sure you learn the big picture of everything helped.”

Follow Brandon George on Twitter at @dmn_george.

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