OXNARD, Calif. –The Cowboys' lack of depth at the guard position became a problem in a matter of only a couple days, and the problem has been solved even more quickly.
The Cowboys reached one-year deals with two veteran linemen on Friday, nine-year pro Derrick Dockery and eighth-year man Daniel Loper, both of whom were members of the club in 2011. The pair worked out with the team earlier in the day, along with a third familiar face, Montrae Holland, who did not sign, though he remains an option for the club.
To make room on the roster, the Cowboys waived tight end John Nalbone and placed wide receiver Cole Beasley on the Reserve/Left Squad list, retaining his rights after he surprisingly decided to quit the team.
The team is currently without the two projected starters they signed in March. Mackenzy Bernadeau is still several weeks from practicing for the first time, following offseason hip surgery, and Nate Livings is out for at least the next few days with a hamstring injury. Guard/center Kevin Kowalski (ankle tendonitis) will be in a cast for another two weeks and may not be cleared for practice before the end of the preseason, along with center Bill Nagy, who has a high ankle sprain.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, veteran additions cannot practice for their first three days after signing, so Dockery and Loper won't suit out until Monday. All three players watched practice from the sidelines on Friday, those who signed expressing thanks for the chance to make an NFL roster again.
"This is another opportunity to get better, to play for America's Team, to play for a great franchise and a great owner, and also just help bring some leadership," Dockery said. "This is a young group that's been plagued with injuries, so hopefully I can come in and contribute."
Dockery signed with the Cowboys just after final cuts last year, and was expected to be the starter, but he was injured in his first appearance. The team had more injuries at the position later, prompting them to bring back Holland, who they had cut in the preseason. Holland went on to start 10 games in what was his fourth season with the club.
Loper, who called his return to the Cowboys "a great opportunity" previously played for the Raiders, Lions and Titans, and was an on again, off again depth player for the Cowboys in the second half of last year, signed (and later released) four times.
Holland was, by some accounts, the most impressive of the three guards in the workout, but negotiations stalled when his camp asked for playing time incentives that the Cowboys didn't want to include.
Later Friday, Holland tweeted that he didn't think he would be joining the club at this point because the two sides couldn't find middle ground. Still, the Cowboys last season showed a willingness to bring him back, if they need him, and Holland is certainly open to the idea.
"I'm from East Texas. I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan," Holland said. "Of course I want to be here. I'll just let them do the business part."