Colombo, Kosier practice with 'Boys; Ware rests injured neck

For the first time in a month, Tony Romo took snaps behind the guys he's counting on to be the front wall of the Dallas Cowboys' offense.

He might get to do it Sunday, too.

Right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since being lost to knee injuries during training camp. Barring any setbacks, they'll be in the lineup for the home opener against the Chicago Bears.

"They've both had injuries before, so they know how you come back from them," Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. "Many times, you're a little cautious if it's your first injury. I think they'll be fine."

Just as important, their return would send fill-ins Alex Barron and Montrae Holland to the bench.

Barron had three holding penalties during the Cowboys' 13-7 season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins -- including the final play, wiping out a potential game-winning touchdown catch and costing Dallas the game. Holland wasn't as much of a liability, but the presence of two backups sure seemed to affect the team's play-calling.

With Romo mostly taking quick drop-backs and throwing short passes, the Cowboys racked up 380 yards but scored only one touchdown in the loss.

"Certainly having Kosier and Colombo, guys who have been starters for us for the last three years, back in the lineup will help," Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "We'll see how they do in practice, but the other guys have to be ready to go."

Indeed, Barron and Holland took some snaps with the first team just in case.

Barron also worked on cleaning up his technique. Sloppy form is what led to him to keep grabbing at Redskins to try keeping them off Romo.

"We've identified the issue," Houck said. "I think that's the important thing. We know how to correct it. ... It's all technique. It's not athletic ability, it's not want-to, it's not preparation. Some of the issues are how he sets and what he does. We'll address it; we've got the answer. We've just got to get it now where it's a habit."

The St. Louis Rams gave up on Barron this offseason, sending him to the Cowboys for Bobby Carpenter, a backup linebacker they ended up cutting.

Penalties were part of the reason the Rams dumped Barron. He was flagged for holding seven times last season, tied for the most in the league. They were accepted five times for 50 yards, both of which also were tied for most in the league. He was penalized five more times for false starts.

Barron is leading the pack in holding penalties this season. Nobody else even had two, much less three.

"You never want to have a game or plays like that, being that the game could have been won," Barron said. "It was one of those things you got to deal with and look at the tape and talk about a couple of things to work on and work on those things and get better."

Colombo practiced with braces on both his knees, the left one that was torn up early in his career and the right one, which was operated on last month. Doctors removed several fragments that had become troublesome, some likely floating around for years.

Colombo initially was expected to be back by the opener, but he wasn't even cleared to practice until this week.

"The guy is as mentally tough as any guy I've ever been around," said Houck, whose NFL coaching career dates to 1983. "I anticipate that he'll be better than ever. All these loose parts he had in his knee, he's had in there for quite some time, so it's been bothering him. Now, it's clean out there. The only thing now is the incision. That's sealed up and ready to go."

The Cowboys like running behind Colombo's bulldozing blocks. They also like the attitude he brings. They've been missing him for eight consecutive regular-season games as he missed seven last year because of a broken leg and a high ankle sprain. (His replacement then, Doug Free, now starts at left tackle.)

"Marc Colombo has been a consistent player for us," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I think you get the same thing, day in, day out all the time, and that same thing is very good. Hes a very good leader. He is our leader in our offensive line as far as meetings and practice and pushing everybody. You miss him there."

Kosier sprained his knee two days after Colombo was hurt. He was expected to miss up to three games, so he's actually back a little early.

Colombo's value is best judged by Dallas' record when he plays (36-15) and when he doesn't (6-8).

Note: LB DeMarcus Ware missed practice Wednesday because of a head injury he sustained against the Redskins, but he's expected to return Thursday and to be in the lineup Sunday. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said sitting Ware was strictly precautionary. "I put my head down and tweaked it a little bit. But I'm good," Ware said before practice. "They just wanted to make sure they took the right precautionary measures and everything is OK."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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