ARLINGTON, Texas – Montrae Holland took full advantage of his second chance to make a first impression.
Holland had the kind of game in Sunday’s win the Cowboys hoped they would get out of the guard when they made the decision to release Leonard Davis. It came six games into the season, days after the veteran the Cowboys released in early September re-signed with the team, which was desperate with rookie guard Bill Nagy out for the season with a broken ankle and veteran Derrick Dockery not ready to return from a sprained MCL.
The spotlight will rightfully shine on rookie running back DeMarco Murray after he broke Emmitt Smith’s franchise record with 253 rushing yards. Holland, however, gets a big share of the credit from the front office.
“He was frankly outstanding,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “I’d give him my game ball.”
The issue with Holland was his weight, which hovered north of 340 pounds at the beginning of training camp. That was directly related to the back problems that sidelined him most of the camp and preseason and prompted the Cowboys to cut Holland.
Holland, who worked out at an offensive line academy in Ohio while he was unemployed, reported for his Tuesday tryout at about 330 pounds. He was working with the Cowboys’ starting offense Wednesday morning.
Signing Holland made sense because the Cowboys knew he was familiar and comfortable with their system. The move paid dividends because Holland regained the ability to move.
“Just looking at him throughout the game, he still was very fresh,” offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. “He still had plenty of energy. He was still moving quickly. So I was impressed with the condition that he was in.”
Holland said he prayed for a few hours before the game that he wouldn’t mess up his second chance. He shied away from the praise, including Jones’ comment about the game ball.
“I don’t want it,” Holland said. “If it goes to me, it’s going to go to the offensive line, the whole offensive line. We all came together. There’s nobody bigger.”
The Cowboys are ecstatic about the smaller version of Holland. He might not want the game ball, but he’ll gladly take the game check.
Holland’s performance against the Rams guarantees that those checks will keep on coming.