The Cowboys’ offensive line will have a tough task protecting quarterback Tony Romo from Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins on Sunday. And that task will get even tougher if they’re down a starting guard.
But with starting guard Nate Livings out of practice with a knee injury today, there are concerns that Livings will miss his first start of the season on Sunday at Cincinnati, where Livings played the first six years of his career. That would force the Cowboys to put backup Derrick Dockery in the starting lineup.
And that would be a mismatch against Atkins. For that matter, almost every guard in the league is mismatched against Atkins. Although Atkins doesn’t get as much attention as the league-leading pass-rush trio of San Francisco’s Aldon Smith, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Denver’s Von Miller, he’s having an excellent season bringing pressure from the defensive tackle position.
Atkins leads all NFL defensive tackles with 9.5 sacks, and if he gets one more sack he’ll have the most for any defensive tackle since Atlanta’s Rod Coleman had 11 in 2004. It’s going to be tough for the Cowboys’ line to prevent that one more sack from coming at Romo’s expense.