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Rookie Center Feels Like A Different Player After Camp
OXNARD, Calif. – An offseason and a training camp has Travis Frederick feeling like a completely different player from the lineman the Cowboys took with the 31st pick in the draft.
The one trait Frederick’s always possessed since joining the league is his intelligence, and his ability to absorb all the information needed to make calls as a starting center in the league has allowed him to transition smoothly into the NFL.
“Even during OTAs, I felt like I had learned a whole college year’s worth of experience in those 10 OTAs, and the same thing goes for these practices here,” Frederick said. “I feel like I’ve just learned so much even from OTAs. I’m a different player from the beginning of camp than I am now. I think it’s a great opportunity. Every time I have a chance to get out here and practice, it makes me a better player.”
Frederick’s been forced to learn center and the guard positions, primarily the right guard, to adjust for injuries. The Cowboys’ have left no doubt they’d like him to play center, but with guard Nate Livings out after a knee scope and guard Ron Leary about to have his knee scoped, Frederick could continue to move around and will certainly have some variations on the line surrounding him.
The recent Leary news is particularly unfortunate for Frederick, who finally got accustomed to having two consistent players in Leary to his left and Bernadeau to his right. But if assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack knows if anyone can handle the variations and different situations thrown at him, it’s Frederick.
“He’s incredibly smart,” Pollack said. “For a young guy, especially with a lot of the stuff we’re doing in the run game and from a protection standpoint, he always has everyone targeted correctly, he’s on his calls, he knows his adjustments. For a rookie center to come out here and do that, he’s been doing it since he got here, is impressive, real impressive.”
The transition to the professional rhetoric at his position hasn’t been difficult for Frederick, who said there are a lot of similarities in the calls and playbook to what he used in college. There are more calls for him to make with some different nuances to them, but nothing that Frederick can’t handle at center or guard.
Pollack believes Frederick’s more comfortable at center, particularly because that’s where most of his reps have come and that’s where he played at Wisconsin last year. He may have to play guard if the injuries keep afflicting the team, but he’s settled in at center and said he’s begun to pick up Mackenzy Bernadeau’s playing style to his right.
“Any time you get an opportunity to work with a guy, especially for several days in a row, you really start to pick up the little things that he likes to do,” Frederick said. “He talks a little bit more on the inside, not good or not bad, just what he does, which is good for me to be able to understand that’s going to be coming from there so I can expect it. The way that he plays, he plays a little bit more heavy on the inside and things like that. You just kind of get used to that.”
It’s nice for Frederick to get the continuity around him, but the center’s not worried about the certain change to come with Leary out for the near future.
“It certainly isn’t a bad thing to have transition and have switching in and out there,” Frederick said. “You’ve got to be ready to play with whoever’s in there.”