IRVING, Texas – Head coach Jason Garrett gave glowing reviews of rookie center Travis Frederick and first-year guard Ronald Leary in their first regular season starts Sunday night.
Frederick and Leary made up two-thirds of the interior of the starting offensive line and helped quarterback Tony Romo buy time and stay on his feet for most of the night.
“Those guys stood up well, and I do think the conditioning part of it with no huddle and all of that played a part in this, because they’re not coming off the ball quite as explosively as they normally would, but those guys did a good job standing in there,” Garrett said. “We’re firmer than we’ve been in a long, long time.”
Leary was on the practice squad last season and used the offseason to put himself in position to start. Even if recent free agent acquisition Brian Waters starts this week, it’s unlikely Leary will be taken out of the lineup.
“For Travis to play his first game in the NFL, I thought he did a really nice job,” Garrett said. “And really for Ron Leary to be in the same situation, even though he has another year under his belt, for those guys to go out and hold up against that front was pretty good. There are some veteran players, big, strong explosive guys who have played in this league for a long time. I thought for the most part we blocked them pretty well, particularly in pass protection.”
The Cowboys threw the ball 49 times and Romo was sacked twice, but on neither occasion did the pressure come through as rapidly as it had last year. The Dallas offense also used a lot of check downs and quick passes. Seven of the eight players who caught a pass averaged fewer than 10 yards per catch.
“I think it helped, but it’s also a tribute to Travis Frederick and Ron Leary,” Garrett said. “Those guys played well. They’re big, strong guys in there, and they did a good job not getting knocked back into the quarterback and were firm in protection throughout the game. Tony had a lot of opportunity. If you watch, a number of passes where he’s standing there, he looks, he looks over here, he looks over there and finds the third or fourth guy in the progression.”
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