COWBOYS: Thanks to strong practices, Free has Dallas’ confidence
Continued from C for injured right tackle Marc Colombo late and appearing in every game last year.
With his long arms and quick feet, the 6-foot-6-inch, 320-pound Free has exhibited his strength and mobility during the first week of camp.
On one passing play, Free clogged defensive end Stephen Bowen at the line, then stepped back to shove away rushing linebacker Bradie James. Free later had to block Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware and end Igor Olshansky on the same play. There was then a running play where he pulled to the opposite side.
“He’s really quick against the run. Man, he’s strong,” Ware said. “I’ve seen Igor over there talking to him like, ‘Man, you’re a strong guy.’ When that comes from Igor, it’s a big compliment.”
Only after practice is Free evasive, constantly turning down interviews and doing his best to ignore cameras.
After signing autographs near one of the tunnels to the Cowboys’ locker room near midfield at the Alamodome, Free realized that several cameras were ahead of him. He dodged them all.
“I’m just playing football, that’s what I want to do right now,” Free said, without stopping or even looking at the inquiring reporter on his way off the field.
“He is a very low-key guy, very calm, very humble,” center Andre Gurode said. “He is a guy who loves to work, so we love that about Doug.”
The Cowboys acquired tackle Alex Barron from St. Louis in May for linebacker Bobby Carpenter in a swap of underachieving former first-round picks. Barron has started 74 of his 76 career games, including all 16 at left tackle for the Rams last season, but the Cowboys have pegged Free as the starter.
Coach Wade Phillips is encouraged by the confidence Free shows.
“He’s really taken the bull by the horns. He seems confident in everything he’s doing,” Phillips said.
“And you know he’s a great hustler. He’ll get down the field and make blocks down the field that other guys won’t. That’s what we liked about him in the first place.”