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November 20, 2012

Parnell feeling "more comfortable," ready to start at LT if needed against Redskins

Jermey Parnell has yet to be installed as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting left tackle for Thursday’s game against Washington. But the third-year player worked today with the first-team offense for a second consecutive practice and said he is steeling himself mentally to replace injured starter Tyron Smith (high ankle sprain), if needed, against the Redskins.

Parnell said he has watched more videotape this week, in addition to the extra practice reps, and should be more prepared than he was Sunday, when he struggled against Cleveland after taking over for Smith in the first half.

“I feel more comfortable knowing what’s going on now,” said Parnell, who allowed two sacks and had a holding penalty against the Browns. “So we’ll see when game time comes … It’s harder to prepare to start. But the coaches have confidence in me that I can get the job done.”

Parnell, who played more seasons of college basketball (4) than college football (1) during his career at Ole Miss, said he did not take a practice rep with the first-team offense leading into the Cleveland game and considered it a “big shocker” when Smith went down.

Smith, the Cowboys’ top lineman, offered Parnell advice from the sidelines during the Cleveland game and said he will do likewise Thursday if unable to play. Smith has said his availability is likely a game-time decision, depending on his pain tolerance at game time.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Parnell’s primary problems against Cleveland involved being late off the snap and missing assignments. He expressed hope that experience gained in Parnell’s most extended action of his career will help Parnell minimize mistakes against Washington.

“I still have some improvement to go,” said Parnell, who described his confidence level as “high” heading into Thursday’s game. “This business, it changes in and out. You’ve just got to be ready.”

Although still a project, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has said Parnell has the best feet and best punch among the team’s offensive linemen. Parnell’s response?

“I don’t know what he means by that,” Parnell said. “All I know is I’m just going to my job to the best of my ability that I possibly can. And that’s it.”

_ Jimmy Burch

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