Cowboys OL coach Hudson Houck kept bringing the conversation back to a rookie who didn't even start as a senior at Wisconsin. Bill Nagy, a player drafted two spots away from Mr. Irrelevant, is looking like the odds-on favorite to be the Week One left guard if Montrae Holland (back) is not healthy.
Houck all but came out and said it in a phone interview this week with PFW.
"We'd like to have Montrae back, but it has been good for the young guys to get a lot of experience while he's out," Houck said. "Nagy is the guy right now (at left guard). All the young guys have a shot, but Billy is really doing a great job learning our offense. He's a really intelligent kid. He's a savvy football player. It doesn't appear to be too big for him. When he makes a mistake, he knows it and generally doesn't make it twice."
The other young guys include second-year OL Phil Costa, who is expected to miss a few weeks with a strained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee but could be the Week One center if Andre Gurode is cut or traded, and fourth-rounder David Arkin, who was given the first chance to replace Holland but has since fallen back a bit.
Asked for a nuts-and-bolts scouting report on Nagy, who has been the biggest surprise in camp, Houck laid it out in simple terms: "Great leverage, great attitude, plays hard. He's the kind of guy we like."
Houck made sure to mention that Holland would be the starter — if he's healthy.
"Right now, (Holland is) working a lot on conditioning; he's working a lot on certain areas," Houck said. "Sure, we'd love to have him be the starter."
But short of that, you might see Nagy — who got most of his action last season for the Badgers as an extra blocking tight end following an injury that cost him his starting job after his junior season — in there knocking heads with the Jets' 3-4 front in Week One.
"I like what we are doing with these young guys, a number of them. But the guy who is ahead of most of them — other than maybe (first-round ORT) Tyron Smith — is Nagy. He's the next guy up. I feel good about him."