Doug Free said the move back to right tackle is going well for him, and that this is the time to do it.
“It’s nice doing it in the offseason. Everybody’s got a chance to figure it out, go through training camp, compared to doing it during the season,” he said Wednesday at the Cowboys’ annual golf tournament. “This last year, we had a lot of rotation with guys and stuff, so getting the lines set early, getting the training camp under our belt with everybody together, definitely should help.”
Free and second-year tackle Tyron Smith are switching places. Smith, who started all 16 games at right tackle as a rookie, is going to the left side.
But that is not the only change. Free agent signees Mackenzie Bernardeau and Nate Livings are expected to be plugged in at the guard spots. Last year, the Cowboys used four players – Bill Nagy, Kevin Kowalski, Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery – at guard.
Free said he has enjoyed meeting the new additions, Bernardeau and Livings.
“I hadn’t met them before they came here, but both of them seem to have great personalities, be great guys in general, hard workers, quiet guys,” Free said. “I think they’ll fit right in our group. They’ll be a great fit.”
So it sounds like Free is the veteran statesman of the offensive line now, with Kyle Kosier having been released. In the space of a a calendar year, the Cowboys also parted ways with veteran tackle Marc Colombo, veteran guard Leonard Davis and veteran center Andre Gurode.
“I’m up there in age now, I guess,” Free said, smiling at a question about whether he’d be the one giving the orders now. “But Livings has got a lot of years under his belt, too. He’s also a veteran player.”
Free, a fourth-round pick in 2007, hasn’t forgotten the education he got from Kosier, Colombo, Gurorde and Adams.
“You learned a lot from those guys, getting a chance to come in here, just learning some of their techniques, how they handle situations, how they work. A lot of great workers I got to work under.”
Free played right tackle late in 2009 when he filled in for an injured Colombo, so the transition for him isn’t abrupt.
“It’s mainly just thinking everything different, opposite, just kind of getting settled over there, used to how everything is called,” he said. “Instead of being on one side, you’re on the other. But getting this time to get used to it is definitely a positive.”
-- Carlos Mendez