As you guys have already noted in the comments and in a FanPost - Hat Tip sublimezg, that's why this blog rocks, community participation - the Cowboys are adding veteran center Duke Preston to the roster.
This is a serious challenge to Cory Procter and Montrae Holland. On the positive side, his name is Duke, so that's just cool in itself. Oh yeah, he's also started games in the NFL, on a regular basis for Buffalo. He's experienced. On the negative side is the fact that he's a free agent this late in preseason. There's usually a reason for that. He was with the Packers from March until this week. And I've read mixed reviews about his play.
The Bills drafted him in the fourth-round in 2005, out of Illinois. He started the bulk of the games at center for Buffalo last year. For the Cowboys to go out and get him, they're obviously not comfortable with the current situation. Wade Phillips said that Holland will not be playing center after having trouble with the snaps this preseason. It feels like this signing is aimed directly at Procter, and that's a good thing. I don't think many of us have been impressed with his play. But Preston can also play guard, so Holland better make sure he's turning in a good performance or he could be the target.
Either way, I like getting some fresh blood in here to compete, and the fact he's a vet and has started before is a bonus. According to the National Football Post, Oakland and Cleveland were also interested but the ‘Boys won out.
Some Preston reviews below...
I checked in with Scouts, Inc. over at ESPN and they had this to say:
Grade: Avg. Starter
Comment: Preston has seen more time as a starter in 2008 as a center and offensive guard. He has excellent size, strength and athleticism for an interior offensive lineman. He has natural power to anchor in the middle of the line as well as enough strength to get movement on double teams and power zone-blocking schemes in the running game. Preston is limited in space to connect with targets on the second level, but he's a solid technician who understands angles and combination-blocking schemes. He uses his hands well to gain leverage and does a nice job to lock on and stay connected, once engaged. He appears to have a good feel for the game and reacts well to stunts and twists. He was more aggressive in 2008 and is a versatile player who has value giving depth along the offensive line, but he's shown he can also be an effective starter.
We'll see what happens, but having someone else in the competition for the interior backup line was a smart move.