IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' offensive line is back to full strength this week with right guard Zack Martin practicing fully in his expected return from a training camp stinger. Behind its five starters, the team enters the regular season with more tackle depth after claiming third-year veteran Jordan Mills off waivers from the Bears on Monday.
Mills participated in his first practice as a Cowboy on Wednesday, wearing No. 67. The 24-year-old made 29 starts at right tackle in two seasons with the Bears.
"Similar things, different offense – just got to work at it. Other guys have been here since OTAs," Mills said. "You've got to be patient and stay in the playbook and stay the coaches and the veterans that have been here."
Mills joins Darrion Weems as the current backups to starting tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free. Weems has been in the Cowboys' system for three years – he was an inactive reserve for the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons and spent last year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. This year he worked as the primary swing tackle in training camp, replacing the departed Jermey Parnell.
"He has improved dramatically as a player," Garrett said of Weems. "That comes from the experience he's had. It's disappointing for him last year to miss all that time. Young players missing time is critical; it really curbs their development. To have him back and get all the work he's had, I think he's made a lot of progress."
Mills' experience gives the Cowboys another backup option, either as a swing tackle or perhaps backing up one side with Weems handling the other.
"He has had a number of starts playing tackle in this league," Garrett said. "He became available. You're always trying to upgrade your team, so we brought him in here."