Doug Free, Left tackle
FLOZELL ADAMS, who was cut loose in the off-season, missed only 10 starts at left tackle in the last 11 years for the Cowboys. And even though his mobility had declined significantly in recent years, there's certainly some risk in handing the job to Free, a backup at right tackle in 2009 until he took over for starter Marc Colombo when the latter went down with a broken leg last November. Dallas's fourth-round pick in '07, Free last played left tackle in '06, as a senior at Northern Illinois. But starting 46 games on the left side in places like Bowling Green, Ohio and Kalamazoo, Mich., is one thing. Starting at FedEx Field on national TV in Week 1 is another. And bouts with the Bears' Julius Peppers and the Texans' Mario Williams in Weeks 2 and 3 will be major tests. The only thing at stake in the Cowboys' decision to hand him the job, of course, is the blind side of franchise quarterback Tony Romo.
"I try not to think about the pressure," Free said as Dallas camp broke last week. "The way I look at it is, I played left tackle a lot in college, and it's a position that's very familiar to me. I focus on the fundamentals of the job and what I have to do to succeed."
By all accounts he did well in training camp, showing better lateral quickness and more athleticism than the worn-down Adams. "He's going to be fine," Romo says. "I'm not just saying this because he's going to be there and [so] I have to. I really like what I've seen. I'm comfortable with him there." Without a quality backup to Free, Romo's got little choice.