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June 04, 2013

Free says he, Cowboys both got what they wanted, that he's happy, and that competition from Parnell improved him

Doug Free took a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys, but he said, “I think both sides got what they wanted out of it.”

The veteran lineman accepted a two-year deal worth half his former salary when he re-signed with the Cowboys last month. But he said he is happy and striving to improve.

“I’m happy, yeah,” he told reporters Tuesday after an OTA practice at Valley Ranch. “Got to be. Got to stay positive and keep working hard. ... I don’t want to look at the business part and the money part. I just like playing football, and that’s what I like to do.”

Free said he expects competition for his job at right tackle again this year, and he credited it for helping him improve late last season when he split snaps with Jermey Parnell.

“I think any time you get challenged by something, one way or another, you’re either going to get stronger and play better or get weaker and play worse,” he said. “I think last year, the competition definitely improved my game and kind of helped me focus.”

Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said he and Free have worked on improving the angles he takes in pass protection and in studying opponents more closely.

“We’ve studied a great deal of rushers on film and what they’ve done and the type of moves they’ve given to him and that he’s seen,” Callahan said. “So we’ve done a considerable study of all the repertoire of things that have broken down his game. We’ve also shown him some of the highlights and some of the positives that he’s done, too, cause he’s done a lot of great things.

“Obviously there’s some mistakes that we’re working hard to improve. But he does have talent. He’s a good foot athlete. He’s a smart guy. He’s a strong guy. If we can just minimize some of those errors and help him out a little bit better as a coaching staff, I think we’ll be a better offensive unit all the way around.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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