Doug Free says he's playing much better

IRVING, Texas -- Remember Doug Free, the Cowboys' starting right tackle?

It was last summer when reporters chased Free around various charity events asking whether he would accept a pay cut, which he eventually did.

Free is having a pretty solid season.

He's been charged with allowing 6.5 sacks, certainly a high number, but he's committed just four penalties this season, which is a vast improvement from last year. Free was penalized a career-high 13 times in 2012.

Free seems to be playing with more confidence this season and there aren't any discussions about him being more aggressive on the field, something that coach Jason Garrett made note of last year.

"Maybe it's just another year, getting used to the system, used to the [right] side," Free said. "I don’t have any one particular thing, 'Hey this is the jackpot or anything like that.’ I've just been working hard this year on trying to stay focused on the task at hand and just roll with it."

The Cowboys have produced better results while running to the left side this season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. But when things are directed toward Free, the Cowboys average 4.6 yards per carry.

"It's been real good getting a little balance and ... I think DeMarco [Murray], he's been having fun with it and stuff and everybody has been having fun running the ball," Free said. "It's a matter of what teams give us and you have to take advantage of whatever a team allows us to do."