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Even if Dez Bryant is out, an elite offensive line gives Cowboys an edge

FRISCO, Texas -- If it’s been said once it’s been said a thousand times: The Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in football.

With the potential loss of Dez Bryant to a hairline fracture starting Sunday at San Francisco, there is a feeling that the offensive line can still carry the day.

That group will be at less than full strength with La'el Collins out with a torn ligament in his right big toe, but the Cowboys feel more than confident in Ronald Leary, a starter from 2013-14. They are also more confident that left tackle Tyron Smith will be available after not playing last week with a tight back.

“For us, everything stays the same,” center Travis Frederick said. “We’ve talked about that with the running back, with the quarterback. It’s the same deal. The system stays the same. It’s just a matter of who’s running it and our job will continue to be the same. We’re going to do what we can do to be successful no matter what.”

The Cowboys’ running game has improved each week, from 30 carries for 101 yards in Week 1 to 102 yards on the same amount of carries in Week 2 to 41 carries for 199 yards last week. In two of the three games, Dak Prescott was not sacked.

The combination of the line play and Ezekiel Elliott should help the Cowboys deal with Bryant’s potential absence.

“We’ve got a great offensive line that does a good job protecting. Guys are going to step in and continue to do a good job,” Prescott said. “They did a great job Sunday. He’s a tough back. He’s a guy who runs downhill. He had a great game Sunday and we’ll continue to work hard to do the same.”

Coach Jason Garrett has attempted to build a team through an offensive line that has a toughness and attitude. In three games, the Cowboys have seven rushing touchdowns. They had eight all of last season.

It’s the third-most rushing touchdowns the Cowboys have had in franchise history. In 1971, they had nine rushing scores in the first three games. They had eight in 1968 and 1995.

“There’s no question that you want to be a physical football team. It starts with your ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and your ability to run the football on offense,” Garrett said. “I thought (the Chicago game) was a good indicator of that. We rushed for nearly 200 yards. I think we rushed the ball 41 times in the game. A lot of positive things. Over the course of a game if you can do that, you’re going to wear the opponent down, you’re going to be good at situational football, and that’s a really good thing for your team. Our ability to possess the football with our mix of run and pass has been positive, not only for our offense but for our defense. It’s allowed us to have success the last couple weeks.”