IRVING, Texas (AP) — Ryan Cook was playing against the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason finale only a couple of weeks ago.
Now Cook is a center of attention for the Cowboys, preparing to start in the middle of a restructured offensive front in the second game of the season Sunday at Seattle. He was already snapping to Tony Romo and making line calls only two series into the season opener.
"He's really proven that he can learn things quickly," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. "He did a really good job in the Giants game. We hope he just continues to grow in our system."
After starting all 16 games at center for the Cowboys last season, Phil Costa dealt with back issues in training camp while two other candidates for the job, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski, both sustained ankle injuries. Costa's only preseason action was 12 snaps in the preseason finale against Miami, the same game Cook was playing guard for the Dolphins two days before being traded to Dallas.
Costa, who won't play against the Seahawks, only got through the first series in the season-opening win at New York before being sidelined again by his back. In went Cook, who had previously only gotten about 10 snaps with Romo in practice before some quick warm-ups on the sideline.
"I've been around for a while. I always prepare that way because you never know. You're always one play away," Cook said. "In that instance in the game against the Giants, I was three plays away."
Despite a 24-17 victory in the opener, the Cowboys were far from perfect. Of their 13 penalties, five were false starts and two were for delay of game.
There were plenty of reasons for all the pre-snap miscues. A new center was suddenly thrown into the mix with two new guards, and it was the first game for Dallas since the starting tackles switched sides. It was also at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey against the defending Super Bowl champions and their standout defensive front.
"There are a lot of different reasons you can say this was a factor, that was a factor," Garrett said. "Obviously, when guys have more experience playing next to each other or playing with each other, your chances of success are certainly greater. But we've just got to get it right."
Their next chance comes against Seattle, 11 days after the opener.
"I was fairly comfortable. I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn. That's my sole focus here at this point, is continue to get better and improve every day," Cook said. "Personally, I have to get better and improve. I have to do better at communication and getting everybody on the same page."