The Cowboys got more out of Montrae Holland than they expected last week. They signed him Oct. 18, and five days later, he started and played 62 plays as DeMarco Murray rushed for a team-record 253 yards.
"He hadn’t been in a football uniform in quite a while," Cowboys offensive lineman Hudson Houck said. "I thought that’s what he did very well. He played the entire game, and he was in pretty good shape."
Holland, who reported to training camp overweight, lost 10 pounds after being released before the season started. He worked out for six weeks at former NFL player LeCharles Bentley's O-line Academy in Cleveland.
"He’s a veteran player, and he’s a guy that you all know, and everybody knows he always been on the brink of being a star in this league," Bentley said this week. "Little things have held him back -- an injury here or his diet, weight issue, things of that nature. The biggest thing for me with Montrae was getting him to understand that this is going to be his final opportunity."
Holland has taken advantage of it, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the post-training-camp additions of Derrick Dockery and Holland have helped the offensive line. Both are bigger, stronger and more experienced than rookie Bill Nagy, who started four games at left guard.
"We’re proud now, really, for what has ended up happening," Jones said Thursday. "We are better than what I ever thought we would be, including depth. I didn’t have any aspirations that we would be where we are coming out of training camp, even though we’ve lost Nagy [to a season-ending ankle injury]. The reason being is getting Holland and getting Dockery as well. That really gives us not only the kind of numbers for depth, but it also gives us a heck of a base. It gives us an anchor. That is something that when you go a little smaller in the offensive line, you give that up some. To have both those guys back in here now, but particularly the way Holland played the other day, really is the best we’ve been in the offensive line certainly we’re better than when we were lining up this time last year."
-- Charean Williams