Costa studying tape of Pro Bowler Mangold

GRAPEVINE — Cowboys center Phil Costa started all 16 games last season and is likely to be the team’s starting center again in 2012. After overcoming snap count issues early in the season against the Jets and Redskins, Costa, who played guard as a rookie, settled into his new position.

An adjustment that Costa is currently facing is the process of getting acclimated to new offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

A few changes include new offensive line calls with the center being responsible for making most of them, an off-season workout program focused on each individual position, and getting used to playing between two new teammates.

Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings are the free agent guards projected to start next to Costa.

“They’re both experienced guys,” Costa said last week at the team’s annual golf outing at Cowboys Golf Club. “They’re bringing a lot to our offensive line. They’re both good guys, good guys to work with.”

That should make the changes a little easier on a player entering his third NFL season. After all, as Costa said, “The better the guys are alongside of you, the easier it makes your job and the better you can play.”

In the process of learning what Callahan prefers from the center position, Costa has been studying Jets center Nick Mangold, a player that reached the Pro Bowl all four seasons that Callahan was his coach.

“Yeah, I’ve watched a ton of tape on Mangold,” Costa said. “It’s fun to watch him out there, and all the calls that we’re using now, watch him on the field and how he applies them at his technique. He’s a great player, so it’s fun to watch him on tape.”

The most important thing Costa can do is to continue to improve. Asked last week if he felt like he did that each week last season, Costa responded, “Definitely.”

“From week to week and from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, just what you can feel and know about the defense, seeing the position of the Mike linebacker, what kind of blitz they’re coming with, it does change it for sure,” he said. “You can be in there for days and weeks and months, you can always learn something new. That’s what is fun about it.”

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota