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September 26, 2012

Cowboys right tackle Doug Free grades his play: 'Needs improvement'

Right tackle Doug Free said his play “needs improvement.”

“I haven’t pass-protected well enough. We haven’t run the ball well enough,” he said Wednesday at Valley Ranch. “I definitely have contributed with what I’ve done. I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job, and we’ve got to get it fixed. I have to fix it. I’ve just got to take coaching and keep working the techniques I’ve been taught and really focus on it.”

Free was called for three false starts last week against Tampa Bay. Coach Jason Garrett said Free has been up and down, like the rest of the offensive line.

Asked if he is surprised by how much he has struggled this year, Free said, “You could say that. It is what it is. We’ve got struggles a little bit. I definitely haven’t played up to my potential or what I think I should, and I’ve just got to keep working on it.

Free said he can’t blame the false starts on the distance between tackle and center. He said it’s up to him and left tackle Tyron Smith to be on the same page as Ryan Cook.

“We’ve just got to focus more. I think the distance from the center could be some of that, but I ain’t going to blame it on all that,” he said. “Just a matter of we’ve got to focus better, really stay focused on what the count is and just have our stuff right and ready for the next game.”

Free said he does not have any physical problems, that he’s had plenty of time to switch his technique from left to right and that the change in offensive line coaches is not a factor in his play.

Pass protection, eliminating penalties and run blocking are a matter of concentration and practice right now.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just making sure we focus and do it and get chances to do it,” he said. “The run opportunities are slim at times. We’ve just got to really focus on it, and when we have a chance to run the ball, let’s do it.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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