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August 21, 2013

Frederick says Free's intelligence and NFL experience made it easy for veteran to slip in at guard

Travis Frederick had a new right guard next to him in practice Tuesday – mammoth Doug Free.

But the presence of the 6-foot-8 tackle didn’t faze Frederick, the rookie center who has gotten used to seeing new guards on either side of him. Since being drafted, he has played with Nate Livings, David Arkin and Ron Leary to his left and Kevin Kowalski and Mackenzy Bernadeau to his right.

“I thought Doug did a really good job moving inside,” Frederick said. “He’s such an intelligent player who’s been in the league for several years, who knows his way around the game. So it makes it pretty easy for him.

“Obviously there’s going to be a few things here and there – just the feel of how much help you need to give him, things like that. The things that I’ve talked about switching from center to guard, it’s the same from guard to tackle. As a tackle, you pretty much know what the guard is doing. And in his case, he certainly does. He knows what everybody’s doing. So it makes it easier for him assignment-wise that way.”

The Cowboys considered Free at guard in the offseason but decided against it. Now they are back to looking at it, despite his prototype size for a tackle. Frederick said Free’s height and bulk did not change things.

“Whoever’s playing guard plays kind of the same size,” he said. “You get about the same amount of help, and it’s not necessarily because he’s bigger or smaller that you get more help. It’s because he’s helping you more – purposefully – than he is. He is a big guy. But I don’t know that he’s that much bigger to make an adjustment from somebody else.”

With Free at right guard, Bernadeau moved to left guard – making it a fourth left-guard partner for Frederick.

But Frederick turned it into a positive.

“There’s something to be said about building continuity, but I think there’s also something to be said about switching everybody in and out,” Frederick said. “The way that I kind of explain it is putting gears together in a machine. If you have all the gears built the same, the machine works well. But if one gear is just a little bit different than the other one, you’re going to slip every once in a while. So if you can get everybody to be like that one gear, that’s the right way. You mold everybody the same way, so you switch everybody in and out so that everybody’s doing the same thing. Then, wherever you plug in, the gears all work together.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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