“This is the NFL,” said the veteran guard after his first practice on Wednesday. “Nobody is needed in the NFL, to be honest with you. They didn’t need me. They wanted me, which felt good. I didn’t particularly need to play football, but I wanted to play football. We both wanted to have each other in our lives, so it was just one of those things where we made it happen.”
Waters, 36, showed up at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch facility at 6 a.m. after spending time with assistants Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack on Tuesday night.
“When it’s the first day of school, you've got to get to work,” Waters said. “You've got to get the pads and everything so obviously you've got to get here early.”
Waters has not played since Super Bowl XLVI with New England. He was out of football for family reasons that he did not want to get into. The talks with the Cowboys lasted about a month and he said he had other opportunities, but playing with his hometown team was his first choice.
He spent Wednesday getting accustomed to practicing in the Texas heat as well as the Cowboys' playbook.
“The mental part is what it is,” Waters said. “You play in enough offenses, some are similar. Verbiages are not that much different, but physically, it’s not one of those things you can practice. Football is not a thing you can practice on your own.”
Waters has gone through this late-addition scenario before in New England in 2011, signing on Sept. 4 and starting every game for the Patriots. He said a decision on whether he plays Sunday against the New York Giants will be up to the coaching staff.
“I’ve got a little bit of experience with the changes you have to go through when you are new to a program,” Waters said. “We are all professionals. You come and do your job, people are going to accept you.”