There has been a lot of discussion, and anxiety I might add, over perceived weaknesses of the Dallas Cowboys offensive and defensive lines. Then it was discovered during pre-season that special teams needed some help as well. Obviously the Cowboys know what they need and this week they went about taking care of those needs.
Jan 29, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots offensive guard Brian Waters speaks during a press conference after arriving in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI at University Place Conference Center and Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The biggest addition was the free agent signing of guard Brian Waters. At thirty six years of age one might question his value to a young team that has worked hard to have young players in their prime at most positions. But Waters is no doubt a big upgrade at the guard position, even if he is no longer able to play at a pro bowl level. And with a one year contract, the Cowboys aren’t risking much.
It appears that Ronald Leary will be ready to play against the New York Giants on Sunday, so the line will look like this:
Tyron Smith-left tackle
Ron Leary-left guard
Mackenzy Bernardeau-right guard
Doug Free-right tackle
At this point, it appears that efforts will be made to have Waters ready to go in the second game against the Chiefs. Don’t rule him out against the Giants though, if a guard goes down with an injury. Short of a disaster occurring, it appears that the experiment with Free at right guard is over and that Bernardeau will be the primary backup for both guard positions once Waters becomes the starter at right guard.
Aug 18, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib (9) is sacked by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Caesar Rayford (49) during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The colts defeated the Giants 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys have made other moves as well, in this case to strengthen the defensive line amidst uncertainty about when Anthony Spencer will be ready to play at defensive end. Enter defensive end Caesar Rayford, acquired by trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Rayford certainly appears to look like the prototypical defensive end with a long body and extremely long arms. And just as is the case with DeMarcus Ware, he now has a chance to excel going after the quarterback in the 4-3 defense, no longer having to cover passes as he did in the Colts 3-4 defense.
The Cowboys also traded with the Kansas City Chiefs and acquired linebacker Edgar Jones. The primary purpose for this move was to shore up special teams, which he will certainly help them to do, but he is also one of those 3-4 linebacker, 4-3 defensive end types that can add depth to the defensive line. And while we are on the subject of adding help for special teams, Kyle Bosworth, a linebacker cut by the New York Giants, also provides help for special teams as well as a little inside info on the Giants plans versus the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have made some good moves in the last week by trading several guys instead of cutting them. This has provided them with the extra draft picks they were able to use to help facilitate trades for Rayford and Jones. These trades, along with the free agent signings of Water and Bosworth, have the Cowboys good to go for 2013 because they have found and inserted the missing pieces to the puzzle.