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August 25, 2013

Cowboys' offensive line still unsettled with Jerry Jones hoping Ron Leary can return for opener

The Cowboys' starting offensive line Saturday had Tyron Smith at left tackle, Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard, Travis Frederick at center, Doug Free at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle. But the only thing certain after Saturday's dress rehearsal is that Smith will start at left tackle and Frederick at center in the season opener in two weeks.

"I think [Ron] Leary has got a chance to come in, so I think he does have a chance to play," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "I really want to see how Parnell [did Saturday after coaches' grades]. We just really need to look at this. I don’t know that I could assess how well they did do, each one of them. Parnell at right, it’s logical that he’s going to improve and get better since he missed so much time. He needs the snaps. He does need them. He’s not veteran enough to have missed as much practice and be sharp tonight. Maybe by the time we get to the Giants he can be sharp enough to give us confidence at right tackle."

Leary, who had right knee surgery Aug. 16, will start at left guard if he can get back in time for the opener Sept. 8. Bernadeau would be at right guard. Free would move back to right tackle. But Leary's return is an if....

The Cowboys tried out their contingency plan against the Bengals.

Free has started 55 games at tackle. He has never made a regular-season start at guard. The Cowboys moved him there early last week in practice.

Free had little to say afterward.

"Sorry, guys. I’m going to look at the film before I say anything," he said. "...I don’t know anything at the moment. Sorry."

Jones said he can't wait to see how Free graded out.

"He’s never played guard -- ever," Jones said. "So if, by chance, he should grade good. and I mean, when I say grade good, really be acceptable, then that would be impressive to have never played the position. That would be very impressive.

"We’ve talked about doing it [trying Free at guard], couldn’t do it, had a lot of reasons not to do it. But now we’ve got a good one to do it, and so let’s see what happened. I think he did better than he should have done."

Parnell has started only one career game. He subbed for Smith at left tackle in the Thanksgiving Day game against the Redskins after Smith sprained an ankle the previous week against Cleveland.

-- Charean Williams






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