Cowboys sign a defensive lineman

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
1:11
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys made it official Saturday when they signed defensive tackle Jerome Long to the 53-man roster.

Long was one of the final cuts from training camp but recent injuries to the defensive line pushed the Cowboys to make several moves.

To make room for Long, the team placed defensive tackle Ben Bass on the injured reserve list with a separated left shoulder.

Bass separated his shoulder midweek during practice, and once it was determined he would miss close to a month, the Cowboys decided to make some decisions regarding the line.

In the past week, the Cowboys traded a conditional 2015 draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for defensive end Caesar Rayford. He had had five sacks and 11 tackles in the preseason for the Colts.

Rayford’s story is unique.

He played in the Arena Football League for three seasons where he had 22.5 sacks. Rayford also spent two seasons with the B.C. Lions of the CFL.

“Some people get in front doors, some people get in the back doors, but guys like me have to climb the house and jump through the chimney,” Rayford said. “That’s been my journey. It’s been long and hard and I stayed the course and now I’m here.”

The health of the Cowboys’ defensive line consisted of defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and George Selvie and defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden. The lone backup, with no health issues, was Landon Cohen, a defensive tackle who was signed the same day as Selvie, July 25. Cohen played with three NFL teams after getting drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by the Detroit Lions.

Cohen didn’t play in the NFL last season. Now he’ll get significant playing time in the season opener against the Giants on Sunday night.

“It's football; things happen,” Cohen said. “You have to be ready however the chips fall. I’m never comfortable. I want to be focused on what I’m doing.”

The Cowboys also have defensive end Edgar Jones, acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’s mainly a special-teams guy. He could see time on defense.

The health along the defensive line was also stymied when the knee of defensive end Anthony Spencer didn’t respond in a positive way so he could play against the Giants.

Spencer said he suffered a setback when swelling developed in his surgically repaired knee. Without Spencer, the Cowboys are relying on some newly acquired players, while projected starters, Jay Ratliff (PUP for six weeks) and Spencer, sit out and backups, Tyrone Crawford (Achilles) and Bass, are out for the season with injuries.

“I feel just as confident if Jay Ratliff or Spence was here,” Hatcher said. “Nick is a great player and he’s played in this league a while. Selvie the same way. I got great confidence in the guys.”
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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