After no team offered Demetress Bell a contract this spring, he got comfortable on his couch. He had just decided to get in shape, by going to work with trainer Tom Shaw in Orlando, when the Cowboys called.
Bell was 350 pounds when the Cowboys signed him July 21. At 39 pounds over his listed weight, Bell was so out of shape, the Cowboys placed him on the non-football injury list and put him in their version of "Biggest Loser." He now is on the practice field, having trimmed down to 328 through dieting and exercise."He was way overweight when we signed him, and he’s worked hard to get his weight down to make him a functional player," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We saw him for a couple days of practice last week, and then played a pretty good amount of time in the second half of that game, so did some good things, obviously has a long way to go, though.”
The Cowboys have invested a lot of time in Bell. Even while their injuries mounted at guard, the Cowboys kept Bell on the 90-player roster.
He is playing right tackle for the Cowboys after playing left tackle his entire career and contending for a roster spot as a backup swing tackle. He started 24 games at left tackle for Buffalo from 2009-11, and the Eagles signed him to a five-year, $34.5 million contract, with only his $3.25 million salary in 2012 guaranteed, after losing Jason Peters to injury last year. But Bell was beaten out by King Dunlap in training camp and was a healthy scratch for the season opener. He played in only nine games, and Pro Football Focus listed him as the 78th-rated tackle among 80 qualifiers.
Bell twice answered "no comment" when asked what went wrong in Philadelphia last season.
Bell, 29, played 25 plays against the Cardinals on Saturday and admits he was "all over the place."
"Some plays are all right, and the next play is all over the place," Bell said. "People say I looked comfortable, but I don’t think I was comfortable at all. ...I’ve just got to get comfortable with the system and comfortable with my position. It’s football, just on the other side."
Bell hopes to shed even more weight to get down to the 315-318 range. He said he weighed 320 in Buffalo in 2010 when he started all 16 games.
He is grateful to the Cowboys for giving him a chance as well as the time to lose the extra weight.
"They've stuck with me," Bell said. "I can’t say nothing bad about the Cowboys. They brought me in. They brought me out to training camp, held me out three weeks and worked me out. You can’t say much more than that. It sounds like they love me. I’ve just got to do my job, do my part to stick."
-- Charean Williams