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New Dallas OL Rivera undergoes back surgery

IRVING, Texas (March 11, 2005) -- A week after receiving a $9 million signing bonus, Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Marco Rivera underwent surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back. He's expected to return in time for training camp.

Rivera had the procedure done March 10, just a few days after feeling pain while jogging on a treadmill. The injury occurred while he was in Baltimore to be honored as the Green Bay Packers' recipient of last season's Ed Block Courage Award.

He let the Cowboys know what had happened and was flown in for an examination by team doctors. They decided to do the procedure now, leaving him plenty of recovery time before the season.

Rivera, who turns 33 next month, hasn't missed a game the past six seasons. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Rivera's durability was among the reasons he gave the veteran a $20 million, five-year contract. He'll be the starting right guard, anchoring the side of the line where Dallas struggled most last season.

The Cowboys have had a mixed history with key players having offseason back surgery.

Troy Aikman didn't miss any games following back surgery the summer after leading Dallas to his first Super Bowl title, even winning it again that season. Last year, safety Darren Woodson had surgery just before training camp to repair a herniated disk in his lower back and never made it back, retiring late in the season.

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