Cowboys talk about right tackle spot

IRVING, Texas – Doug Free’s return to right tackle this season has been a struggle for the Cowboys.

Patience with Free might be running out. The Cowboys were able to see Jermey Parnell in a full game on Thanksgiving when left tackle Tyron Smith could not play because of a high ankle sprain.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to play him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He does get work in practice, and we’ll talk about that right tackle spot.”

Garrett has not made many lineup changes because of poor play since he’s been this team’s offensive coordinator in 2007. Leonard Davis was moved out briefly a few years ago but regained his spot. That Free’s spot is being talked about could mean Parnell enters Sunday’s game at Cincinnati if Free struggles again.

Earlier in the season the Cowboys had Mackenzy Bernadeau and Derrick Dockery split time in practice after Bernadeau got off to a slow start. Bernadeau responded and has played fairly well since.

Parnell has developed into a favorite of owner and general manager Jerry Jones after joining the team two years ago from New Orleans practice squad. While the Redskins’ game provided him with his most extensive action, he has seen work mostly in three-tight end sets during the year.

“That might not sound very significant, but it’s really significant for a guy who hasn’t played very much to go out there in those critical situations,” Garrett said. “And to be honest with you, early on in the year, he didn’t handle it very well. But we felt it was important to persist with that, keep giving him chances. He’s gotten better and better just in handling the situation, the snap count, his assignments, their adjustments. He improved, and I think it helped him when he played when Tyron was out.”