IRVING, Texas – The five-word description of offensive tackle Demetress Bell when he reported to training camp, courtesy of head coach Jason Garrett: “Overweight and out of shape.”
Just how out of shape was Bell? He said he arrived in Oxnard, Calif., weighing 350 pounds, which is 39 pounds heavier than the 6-foot-3 Bell’s listed weight, after spending the offseason “sitting at home on the couch” and “waiting on a team to call.” He said he has since slimmed down to 328 pounds.
The Cowboys finally called in July, inviting Bell to training camp. Dallas stuck with Bell, a former starter in Buffalo who infamously flamed out in Philadelphia after signing a five-year, $35 million deal last summer, despite him flunking the pre-camp conditioning test and needing three weeks to get in good enough shape to practice.
“I mean, they done 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.”
Bell, who declined to comment about his short stint with the Eagles, would like to play between 315 and 318 pounds.
“I’ve still got a long way to go,” said Bell, who followed the dietary plan provided by the team nutritionist, worked out under the supervision of the strength and conditioning staff twice a day and frequently filled free time by riding an exercise bike during camp.
Bell, 29, who is getting used to right tackle after playing on the left side his entire career, believes he can get back to being the quality player he was in Buffalo. He described his performance in Saturday’s preseason loss as “all over the place,” but he’s confident that he’ll play better as he gets more comfortable and his conditioning continues to improve.
“If I do what I have to do, it won’t be a problem,” Bell said. “I just have to work at it and don’t be sitting at home on the couch.”
It remains to be seen whether Bell will be on the Cowboys’ roster. The fact that they kept him around this long indicates they see a future for Bell, and he has two more preseason games to prove he was worth the Cowboys’ time and effort.