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Kyle Kosier is ready to get back

SAN ANTONIO -- While he can't practice, guard Kyle Kosier is ready to play.

The Cowboys' starting left guard signed a three-year, $6.5 million deal Thursday. He can add $1 million to his base salary in 2012 and '13 if he hits certain playing-time escalators. Kosier also received a $2.1 million signing bonus. The deal has the potential to reach $8.5 million.

Kosier, however, is unable to practice until the new collective bargaining agreement is approved and the union recertifies. Once that happens, the league year can start sooner than Aug. 4, which is the target date for when Kosier and other free agents can return to the field.

"This is the worst thing if it goes to August 4," Kosier said. "Then we got to play a game six games after that. I'm missing out [and] just getting back into it. [Need] some technique stuff [and] getting back in football shape is not easy."

It was difficult for Kosier to sit during the lockout. He was in limbo because he was a free agent and wasn't sure if the Cowboys wanted to lock him up long-term. The Cowboys had other issues to take care of. The team was $14 million over the $120 million salary cap and needed to shed salary to make room for some players.

"I was pretty optomistic," he said. "After Tuesday and Wednesday, you're sitting around and we finally got the deal done. So we were happy about it."

It was a no-brainer for Kosier to stay because, while other teams expressed interest, he grew fond of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and wanted to remain there.

"I'm real happy," Kosier said. "There was a lot of uncertainty, but I'm just happy and I feel honored that they through enough of me. My family gets to stay here and we like it here."

Kosier is happy the team signed left tackle Doug Free, but it comes with a price -- the team had to release two veteran offensive linemen in right tackle Marc Colombo and right guard Leonard Davis.

Replacing Colombo is first-round pick Tyron Smith, and Montrea Holland takes over for Davis.

"Every year, you have to step up your game and be more of a leader [to] teach these young kids how to play the game and be a professional," Kosier said. "It was disappointing we lost Marc and Leonard because they are both unbelievable players and they will be missed."