The season-ending biceps injury to Montrae Holland is just the latest blow in what has been a year-long carousel at left guard.
The next man up this time? It's likely veteran Derrick Dockery, who the team added in September not only for his size, but also his savvy as a ninth-year pro.
"It certainly factors into it," Jason Garrett said. "That's one of the reasons we like him and that's one of the reasons we signed him . . . We've had a lot of success this year with guys that we've signed, veteran players from other teams who have come in and played a role for us on this team. He's done a nice job when he's had an opportunity to play, and if he is the guy that is going to go ahead and play in that spot, then we're certainly confident in his ability to do that."
Dockery would be getting the starting nod over undrafted rookie Kevin Kowalski, who was active and replaced Holland at the end of Saturday's loss to the Eagles, and veteran Daniel Loper, who has been on and off the roster throughout the year.
The injury bug at left guard dates back to training camp, when Holland was hurt, then lost his conditioning before being released. The team moved Kosier to right guard, and after the preseason signed veteran Derrick Dockery with the idea he would be their starter on the left side. Rookie seventh-round pick Bill Nagy got the call in the season opener, however. Nagy was hurt in practice in Week 2, giving way for Dockery to start against the 49ers, but he suffered a sprained knee in the game, and Nagy returned.
When Nagy broke his ankle in New England in Week 6 and Dockery still wasn't ready, the Cowboys re-acquired Holland, who has started every game since. Dockery has been healthy since midseason, but was scratched each of the last two weeks.
"Injuries are a part of the game," Dockery said. "You just have to be ready when you number is called. So, I think especially the guys who haven't been playing have been doing a really good job as far as staying in the moment, staying focused, staying prepared, whether it's extra sets after practice or watching extra film. That's what we've been doing of late."
The former Bills and Redskins lineman believes he is in some way more prepared to play now than he was at the beginning of the year.
"If you say mentally, I would say yes," Dockery said. "I'm more in-tune with the offense. I know it a lot more, the ins and outs, so from that standpoint, yes. But from a physical standpoint it's an everyday thing. You go out and make sure you're honing your skills . . . I just haven't been getting all the practice reps, so just making sure you're getting extra cardio, making sure you're doing extra sprints after practice, that's what I've been doing."
The Cowboys' next-man-up mentality has applied to several positions this season, perhaps none for frequently than left guard.
"The situation is what it is, and you just have to get the next guy ready to go in and play," Garrett said. "I think each of the guys who have had an opportunity to play there have done a nice job stepping up and handling the situation as well as they can."