Doug Free doing what he can to be ready for training camp

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys get to Oxnard, California, for training camp at the end of July, right tackle Doug Free will be trying to make up for lost time.

Free has spent the entire offseason recovering from left foot surgery but he said he expects to be full go for the start of practices on July 30.

“Anytime that you miss something you feel like you’re getting behind, but I’ve done the mental preparation the best I can and also the physical stuff, what I can do, I’ve been keeping up with,” Free said. “Just planning on getting into training camp a little fresher maybe than some other people and working extra hard.”

Free missed the first seven games (five regular season, two playoffs) of his career due to ankle and foot injuries. He remained on the active roster through the season as the team held out hope he could return.

He called being a spectator challenging because he was limited in how he could help.

“I was trying to do everything I could then to get on the field,” Free said. “I’m not sure that we knew exactly what we were dealing with or if things possibly changed after the first diagnosis. But anything I could do to help this team I tried to keep going.”

Instead of hitting the free-agent market, Free signed a three-year, $15 million deal that included $6 million in guarantees to remain with the Cowboys.

“There’s always a possibility going other places but I’m happy to be here,” Free said. “I’ve been here eight years already so I built a strong relationship and I’m happy to continue it.”