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Cowboys high on right tackle Parnell

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys expect to be fine at right tackle for the next three to four weeks, while Doug Free recovers from a broken bone in his right foot.

That’s because they really like Jermey Parnell -- and they’re not just saying that because they need him to play.

The Cowboys signed Parnell, who played only one year of college football at Ole Miss, to a three-year deal worth $4 million that included a $1 million signing bonus prior to the 2012 season. When Tyron Smith missed a couple of games in 2012, Parnell started for him and did a good job.

He did so well that Parnell spent the final four games getting regular playing time with Free at right tackle. He played 84 snaps in those final four games and went into training camp in 2013 with a legitimate shot to beat out Free.

Free won the job, but the Cowboys have given Parnell a regular role in the offense as a third tight end in short-yardage situations.

Against Seattle, Free was injured while the Cowboys were driving for the go-ahead touchdown. Play-caller Scott Linehan certainly trusted Parnell.

The Cowboys ran a stretch play to the right, and Parnell put veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who’s played in six Pro Bowls, on his butt on DeMarco Murray's 15-yard touchdown run.

“Jermey didn’t play many plays in the game, but he played some important ones,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s been dealing with a rib injury and hasn’t been able to practice fully the last few days, but he came in and really responded well and he knocked a guy all the way on his back on his first play.

“One of the challenges is everybody has been playing for awhile, so they’ve gotten used to the crowd noise and all that kind of a stuff. All of a sudden, you come in and your uniform is fresh and you’re kind of clean, but everybody else is well into this thing. I thought he responded well emotionally and mentally to that situation.”