"Done -- I don't even want to think about it," Rivera said as the Cowboys gear up for their season opener Sunday at San Diego. "That's been a thorn in my side."
Just days after signing with the Cowboys, Rivera suffered herniated
disk in his back while working out, prompting the veteran blocker to
offer to return his signing bonus to Dallas owner Jerry Jones. Instead,
he underwent surgery to repair the problem.
Then, during training camp, Rivera strained a hamstring, an injury that
often stems from over-compensation for back injuries. Rivera insists
that in his case, the two are not related. Now, as he gets ready to
suit up for his first game as a member of the Cowboys, he suffers no
ill effects from the injuries that kept him out of much of training
"(The back and hamstring) really don't bother me at all," he said,
"other than the normal body soreness. But there's nothing that's got me
running into the training room to tell them about. I feel good. I feel
about 100 percent."
As he gears up for his 10th season, Rivera's roles, as he sees them,
including protector for QB Drew Bledsoe, lead blocker for RB Julius Jones, and now mentor to rookie RT Rob Petitti.
"I'm sure he'll have some butterflies, but he's really doing a pretty
good job," Rivera said. "Every now and then he's got a question, and
that's what I'm there for. But he's played well (in the preseason). He
knows what we need him to do. I'm very comfortable playing next to him.
He's going to be a very fine player in this league."
His more visible roles, of course, involve protecting Bledsoe and
opening up running lanes for Jones, who Rivera said stands on the cusp
"We've got to open lanes for Julius, but he doesn't need a lot of
space," Rivera said. "He's a special kind of back. I watched him a
little last year, and he even makes guys who are unblocked miss."
At this stage of his career, Rivera insists, first-game butterflies
simply aren't an issue.
"I've been preparing like I'm just playing the San Diego Chargers,
which I am," he said. "It's my first game as a Dallas Cowboy, which is
nice, but none of that matters unless we go out and execute our
"We've Got to Open Lanes for Julius"
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