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September 24, 2013

Maligned tackle Doug Free is playing well so far

Not to be overlooked in all the talk regarding the Cowboys offensive line is the play of right tackle Doug Free so far this season

He was a whipping boy of the fans and the media for his struggles the past two years. He was even forced to take a pay cut in the offseason to keep his job on the roster.

But Free has not only been the team’s best offensive lineman through the first three games of the season but he is ranked as the No. 1 tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Free has responded to the challenge like a professional.

“He’s responded really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve talked a lot about how we rotated him at the end of last season. He responded well to that, responded in the offseason, came back in great shape and was ready to go. He really has been impressive since the start of OTAs, really trying to take advantage of the opportunity. 
“I think he’s working on some technical things that will help him. I think he’s playing tougher and he’s staying on blocks, both as a pass-protector but also in the run game.” 

Reasons abound for Free’s success so far. He was clearly motivated by being benched at times last season for Jermey Parnell and the pay cut. But he has also been helped by being in his second year under offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.
“When you’re working with a new offensive line coach, there are new techniques that you use,” Garrett said. “For a guy who has played a little bit, sometimes there’s some unlearning that has to happen. I think that’s a cycle and a progression that has to happen for a player, but Doug’s a smart guy. I think he understands where he is in his career. He’s developing more and more confidence, and he’s technically becoming better and better.”

 Clarence Hill



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