veteran Montrae Holland won't be the answer at right guard in 2011, the Cowboys have begun re-working their offensive line as training camp ends here in San Antonio after this afternoon's final padded practice at The Alamodome.
Yesterday the Cowboys switched veteran Kyle Kosier and rookie 4th-round draft pick David Arkin. With 1st-round pick Tyron Smith a lock to start at right tackle, Dallas didn't want two rookies starting side-by-side so Arkin is now left guard with Kosier on the right. Doug Free remains the left tackle and, if and when his knee rehabs, veteran Andre Gurode will be the starting center (for now it's second-year, undrafted free agent Phil Costa).
Also firm that last year's starter Leonard Davis won't return at a lower salary after being released two weeks ago, last night the team expanded its search for solutions, kicking the tires of 11-year NFL veteran Brian Waters. If you're a local football fan -- or merely a fan of badass offensive linemen -- you probably remember Waters.
I know that last week owner Jerry Jones was adamant that there were no plans to bring in a veteran lineman to compete with Holland. But that was before the veteran followed up a tweaked knee with worrisome back problems that have kept him out of practice since Thursday. He came to camp about 20 pounds overweight (listed at 340), proved too immobile to get out and pull on sweeps and has team officials so concerned that Jones' plans may be changing as we speak.
If the Cowboys were convinced Holland would be healthy and effective in 2011 they wouldn't have switched Kosier yesterday. And they wouldn't be putting together a list of veteran alternatives.
Enter Waters, who starred at Waxahachie High School and the University of North Texas before signing with the Cowboys as a free agent in '99. After being released, he joined the Chiefs and had himself a sparkling career--highlighted by 133 starts at guard in Kansas City-- two All-Pro teams and five invitations to the Pro Bowl.
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At 34, he's still got a little tread on the tire and I hear he has a desire to finish his career close to home in Dallas. The Cowboys haven't made him a contract offer, but a source last night told me his name comes up daily in conversations.
Waters, who was released by Kansas City on July 28, is 6-foot-3, 320 pounds and was the NFL's 2009 Walter Payton Award winner for being a swell guy off the field. He was also No. 67 on NFL Network's Top 100 Players in 2011 and a member of the NFL Players Association's Executive Board during the recent lockout.
He's smart. He's a great locker-room guy. He has an impressive resume at guard. And he wants to be a Cowboy.
The less Montrae Holland makes sense, the more a guy like Brian Waters does.