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If the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive linemen want to know about their new coach, Paul Alexander, they would be wise to study Willie Anderson.

They will see a lot of Anderson whenever they get around Alexander. Anderson has not played since 2008, but he is still a fixture on the tape Alexander shows his linemen each year.

In 1996, Anderson was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, the 10th overall selection. He was named a Pro Bowler four times. He was an All-Pro pick three times. He started every game he played from 1997-2006. If not for Anthony Munoz, a Hall of Famer, he would be the best offensive tackle in Bengals history.

“Great coaches learn that teachers teach,” Anderson said. “A teacher should never say, ‘I teach math.’ You should say, ‘I teach John math. I teach the student.’ That’s an important of teaching. Don’t say, ‘This is my scheme and we do this.’”

In 23 years as the Bengals’ line coach, Alexander adapted. Anderson said he changed based on the personnel he had. He is not just a power-blocking line coach. He is not just a zone-blocking coach. He teaches it all, according to Anderson.

The Cowboys have had success with a zone-blocking scheme since Bill Callahan came in as line coach and continued with Frank Pollack, whom Alexander will replace, the last three seasons. The Cowboys have not had a running game ranked outside the top 10 over the last four seasons. But in truth, the Cowboys ran all sorts of run plays.

“It’s a mix,” Anderson said. “Every O-line coach in football, that’s the biggest misconception. If you’re a line coach, you’re teaching everything. We run power. We run zone. It’s all the same stuff. It’s about how that individual guy can get it taught to those five guys on the line.”

Through the years, the Bengals running game had success. From 2000-02, Corey Dillon had at least 1,300 yards rushing each season and 24 rushing touchdowns. From 2003-06, Rudi Johnson had at least 1,300 yards rushing each season and 36 rushing touchdowns. From 2009-11, Cedric Benson had three straight 1,000-yard seasons and 19 rushing touchdowns. In 2012, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a 1,000-yard season. In 2014, Jeremy Hill had 1,124 yards rushing and in 2015 he had 11 rushing touchdowns.

“Corey Dillon was the best at what we called 16 and 17 Chase,” Anderson said. “He would chase my inside leg however I took the guy and he felt the inside guard, but you have to have the players to do that. Corey was a great zone runner because he was great at cutting back, great vision. He can press the line and at the last second allow for the blocker to set up the block. Why did Terrell Davis run for 2,000 yards running nothing but zone? Denver was the smallest line. They’d run zone and cut the back side. That’s all they did. So Corey loved Chase but at the end [of his time with the Bengals] he wanted to run straight ahead. That’s because our line changed. We didn’t have the guys that could get movement, so he felt like he could get more yards just running straight ahead. With Rudi, he ran the power game. He ran the counter game. He ran zone.”

Alexander had top talents like Anderson, Levi Jones and Andrew Whitworth. He also helped Kevin Zeitler earn the biggest contract for a guard in free agency last year when Zeitler joined the Browns.

With the Cowboys, Alexander inherits three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. He has a young right tackle in La’el Collins. The left guard and backup tackle spots are in flux, but he has a group that is the envy of just about every team in the league. He will also have Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and finished 17 yards short of 1,000 in 2017 despite missing six games because of a suspension.

“It’s all about players you have and what you’re good at and what you’re back is great at,” Anderson said. “Zeke can do a plethora of things. … Paul’s going to assess Zeke, assess the offensive line and they’re going to put scheme together that’s best for them.”

Anderson, who runs a linemen academy for professional, college and high school players as clients, hopes to come down in the spring and work with Alexander, like he had done in Cincinnati, to help. He knows of the Cowboys’ linemen but doesn’t know them personally. But he knows how good they can be, which he sees as good as the group of the 1990s that won Super Bowls right before he entered the league.

“You take Zeke and Dak Prescott, their rookie year and that line was hailed up there with the Cowboys’ from the 1990s,” Anderson said. “Those guys were dominant. That group brought a lot of attention. As an O-line, we want attention. We want people to see how important that group is to show everybody why they were successful as a team. That’s what these guys have. Now you move Collins out to right tackle, I think he’s still learning but he’ll be better in his second year at the position. You have a dominant center and guard that can get overlooked because of how dominant Tyron is. But that’s a real good group of guys. I know Paul is ecstatic to get his hands on to them.”

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Offensive line coach Frank Pollack will not be back with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, as he joined the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

It is the sixth change on Jason Garrett’s staff since the season ended and perhaps the most significant, because of the resources the Cowboys have put in their offensive line and their desire to be a run-first team.

Paul Alexander, who spent more than 20 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, is interviewing with the Cowboys as Pollack’s replacement, according to a source. A source said Tom Cable, who was fired by the Seattle Seahawks and was a college teammate of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, is also a candidate.

Assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who played for the Cowboys from 2005-10, will also be in the mix.

Pollack took over for Bill Callahan after the 2014 season. Dallas was in the top 10 in rushing — including second in both 2016 and 2017 — in each of Pollack’s three seasons as the line coach.

During Pollack’s tenure, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin made the Pro Bowl each season and all three were first-team All-Pro picks in 2016. Pollack also oversaw the move of La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle in 2017.

Pass protection, however, was an issue in 2017. Dak Prescott was sacked 32 times after he was sacked 25 times as a rookie. The Cowboys missed Smith for three full games and all but three snaps of a fourth. In the first game Smith missed, Prescott was sacked eight times by the Atlanta Falcons, with backup tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell giving up six sacks. Without Smith on the field, Prescott threw one touchdown pass. The protection was better with Smith on the field, but Prescott’s yard per attempt dropped from 8 to 6.8 in 2017.

Pollack joined the Cowboys in 2013 as Callahan’s assistant offensive line coach. When Callahan left for the Washington Redskins, Garrett promoted Pollack, who is a stickler for details and technique.

Pollack joins special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, secondary coach Joe Baker and tight ends coach Steve Loney as coaches not returning. Bisaccia was named the special-teams coach with the Oakland Raiders, and Dooley became the offensive coordinator at Missouri. Loney is retiring, and Wilson and Baker had expiring contracts.

Running backs coach Gary Brown, whose contract ran out, also reportedly interviewed with the Raiders and has drawn interest from at least one more team. The Cowboys, however, want to keep Brown. Passing game coordinator/linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and secondary coach Greg Jackson also have expiring contracts.

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As the Dallas Cowboys look to fill out their coaching staff, they know they will not have a vacancy on their personnel staff.

Will McClay, the vice president of player personnel, said Wednesday that he has officially declined a chance to interview for the Houston Texans’ general manager job. When reports surfaced last weekend that McClay had turned down the chance to speak with Houston, he said he had not been contacted by any representatives of the team.

McClay’s decision to remain in Dallas is the best news the Cowboys have had in the early offseason. He has run the team’s personnel department since 2014 and has played the lead in drafting four Pro Bowlers: Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have also added 12 starters or key contributors through the draft during that time, in addition to right tackle La’el Collins as an undrafted free agent.

McClay has received interest from a number of teams in recent years, including the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, but has opted to remain with the Cowboys, who have given McClay a bigger title and added responsibility.

The Texans’ job had some interest for McClay, a Houston native and Rice graduate. He has family in the city and he would not be far from his son. Plus, the Texans have a decent roster, especially with the eventual return to health of J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson, and a good cap situation to be a contender in the AFC.

McClay has been with the Cowboys since 2002, working his way up from a pro scout. While Jerry Jones maintains the general manager role and Stephen Jones is the director of player personnel, they lean heavily on McClay in the draft process and throughout the season.

He has helped bring stability to the draft room with a program designed to keep the scouts and coaches on the same page.

One day he could have the chance to run his own team, but for now McClay is betting on himself and betting on the Cowboys.c

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Late in the season it’s not so rare to come up with more than seven inactive players.

In attempting to figure out the Dallas Cowboys’ 46-man active roster for Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, it’s easy to come up with more than seven players to sit.

First, cornerback Orlando Scandrick (back), defensive end David Irving (concussion), linebacker Justin Durant (concussion) and wide receiver Brice Butler (foot) have been ruled out because of injury.

The Cowboys also don’t need a third tailback (Trey Williams) or a fourth tight end (Blake Jarwin).

You can make the case they don’t need an eighth offensive lineman (Chaz Green), ninth defensive lineman (Daniel Ross) or eighth defensive back (Bene Benwikere), too.

So when you get down to the final few spots, who brings the most value?

Let’s start with Benwikere. He has become a pretty big part of the special-teams unit, but if something were to happen to Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis or Anthony Brown at cornerback, Benwikere can step in and play.

Given the presence of Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, Ross makes some sense because he can bring size to the defensive line at 305 pounds. Ross has yet to play since the Cowboys claimed him off the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad, but his addition was made with a long-term view.

With La’el Collins getting two practices in for the first time in three weeks because of a back injury, Green would seem to be the most dispensable. With Byron Bell already active as the swing tackle, Green’s only real function without two injuries up front would be on the field goal protection unit. Is that enough value to dress on gameday?