IRVING, Texas –If Brian Waters can be what the Cowboys hope, the team has potentially upgraded all three of its interior line positions from last season.
They made the right choice bringing him in, even if he's not as sprightly and quick as he used to be.
Waters joined the Patriots in 2011 right around the same time he joined the Cowboys after training camp and went on to start 16 games and make his sixth Pro Bowl. The Cowboys don't need that type of performance from the 36-year-old to still warrant his signing. They just need him to be better than what they've got.
Dallas was about to enter its season opener against a rival NFC East team with the possibility of right tackle Doug Free at right guard. Playing a tackle at guard is no way to start a season that supposedly featured a commitment to protecting Tony Romo and building a running game.
As fantastic as Travis Frederick has played and looked this offseason, a rookie can only do so much to change the look of a line. Ron Leary seemed to make a difference with his strength inside as well, but in his absence after injury, the mixing and matching of last year flashed right back.
The Cowboys brought in Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in 2012 to help shore up the line. The former is now on injured reserve and the latter has been hurt off and on throughout the offseason for the second straight year since joining the team. Rather than continue on, the Cowboys decided to make a change at a spot that needed it.
Leary could get back this week, which would figure to at least leave Free at the position to which he's accustomed at right tackle. [embedded_ad]
The addition of Waters this late in the year after missing all of the 2012 season could force the Cowboys to keep him out a week to learn the offense and condition himself to withstand the rigors of a full NFL game. Head coach Jason Garrett wouldn't divulge whether or not Waters would be ready to play against the Giants, but even if he's not ready, figuring out one game with some combination of Leary, Free and Bernadeau at guard is better than a whole season of it.
His addition to the roster at least gives the Cowboys more options with which to work and allows the majority of the linemen to play where they're more comfortable. With the signing of Waters, the Cowboys can now say they've put in work to fix the line woes of recent years. An inside of Livings, Ryan Cook and Bernadeau should be outmatched by Waters, Frederick and Leary.