FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys signed veteran offensive tackle Jason Peters to join their practice squad on Monday.
Signing Peters to the practice squad gives him time to work into football shape and gives the Cowboys some roster flexibility. Peters, 40, visited the Star late last week and was cleared medically. He is expected to work out in individual drills only for his first practice with the Cowboys on Monday.
The move comes after the Cowboys lost eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith until at least December because of a hamstring that tore off the bone and required surgery. The addition of Peters at least gives them insurance should first-round pick Tyler Smith struggle at left tackle, though coach Mike McCarthy says the Peters signing isn’t a statement about Smith’s readiness.
“This is about adding depth and bringing another excellent player into your program,” McCarthy said. “This is about adding a future Hall of Fame player to your … football team.”
Peters didn’t say Monday he expected to start once he was ready, which he said would take a “couple of weeks.”
“If Smith gets in there and starts rolling and they want to keep him. I am just going to help him,” said Peters, who has started 218 of 228 games in his career. “I ain’t no guy who is going to feel some way if I don’t start.”
Tyler Smith spent all of training camp competing for the starting left guard spot and only started getting work at left tackle in two practices last week. The Cowboys resume practice on Monday in preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’m just ready to do what I’ve got to do to help the team,” Tyler Smith said last week. “Tyron getting hurt, it was tragic to me. Having a dude like that, a cornerstone of this team, having something unfortunate like that happen is the nature of football. It was a huge shock to the program for sure, and I knew whatever was asked of me, I would have to step up and fill that.”
Peters started 15 games last year for the Chicago Bears and is entering his 18th season. He spent the majority of his career (11 years) with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles.
“Umm, yeah, a little bit,” Peters said when asked if it was weird. “Like I said, that was our rivalry. You know the Dallas and Eagle rivalry go deep, so it’s kinda weird. But I’m here in my home state and ready to roll.”
The Cowboys do not have a veteran backup tackle; Josh Ball did not play as a rookie last season because of an ankle injury, and fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko missed most of training camp because of a shoulder injury that will ultimately require surgery.
How quickly Peters gets up to speed depends on what type of shape he is in after not being in a team’s offseason conditioning program. Injuries have been an issue for Peters, too. He has played a full season only once since 2017.
“Obviously, you have a tremendous amount of respect for what Jason has accomplished throughout his career,” McCarthy said. “Going back, watching the video of his time with Chicago, it’s definitely an opportunity of mutual interest. He’d love to finish his career here in Texas.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.