Health not an issue for Tony Fiammetta

The Cowboys praised the play of fullback Tony Fiammetta last season. But a three-game absence, which led to some tense moments at Valley Ranch, might have sealed his future leading the team to sign fullback Lawrence Vickers on Wednesday.

Fiammetta missed those games with an undisclosed illness. The team didn't know what was wrong with Fiammetta. At one point, after a news conference, coach Jason Garrett addressed reporters by saying Fiammetta didn't have a concussion.

The team didn't know what was really wrong.

Fiammetta was a ghost at Valley Ranch for three weeks. He couldn't even work out.

Then finally he reappeared. Normally when approached by reporters, he chats, but one day he declined to comment as two reporters walked with him toward the parking lot.

Fiammetta was later diagnosed with an inner-ear infection which caused balance issues. He did return for the last four games of the season.

He wasn't the same player. He was a good blocker but he didn't move defenders out of the way as fast as he did early in the season. The Cowboys still valued him, and there was a thought he might get a new contract after he wasn't given a exclusive rights deal Tuesday.

But enter Vickers, whom ProFootballFocus.com ranked as the 15th best fullback in the league in 2011. Fiammetta was ranked 27th while playing in 227 snaps. Vickers played 235.

A source said Fiammetta didn't have any new health issues come up when the season ended. So this move is more about Vickers being better than Fiammetta.

So give the Cowboys credit for upgrading their roster.

Todd Archer provides more analysis regarding Vickers here.