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Position Battles: Swing Tackle Not As Set As Starters

Posted Jun 24, 2014

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a 12-part series breaking down the battles and competitions at each spot and analyzing what to expect at each position entering training camp. The series continues with the offensive tackles.)
IRVING, Texas – At this time in 2013, I wrote for DallasCowboys.com about the battle at offensive tackle between Doug Free and Jermey Parnell.
As those two players prepare to go to Oxnard for training camp in 2014, It’s Free that has separated himself from Parnell and will be the unquestioned starter on that right side. For Parnell, he’s still in a battle, but it’s for that spot as the active swing tackle each week with Darrion Weems.

This upcoming training camp presents the best opportunity for Weems to win that job after being inactive for the first 20 games in his Cowboys career.
Weems is physically stronger and better prepared technique-wise to put himself in position. Both of these players have lined up at one point in time during their careers on the left and right sides. During the OTAs and minicamps, Weems was playing as the left tackle while Parnell was on the right side with the second offense.
What I’ve noticed about Parnell in these practices is that with the competition and seeing Weems development, it’s made him have to raise his own game. In 2013, this just wasn’t the case.
There was a time where Parnell was dealing with a knee soreness, which could have hampered his battle against Free. But even when he was healthy later in camp, there didn’t appear to be the same fire that we have
seen from him so far in 2014.
Where Parnell has improved in his game is that he’s doing a much better job with his movement and reactions, plus we are seeing him working to finish blocks. That’s an area that he struggled with in 2013.
Depending on numbers, the offensive line is an area that the front office might consider to go light in so they can carry an extra defensive linemen, tight end or linebacker, because we have seen Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack play these linemen at several different positions.
Something else to think about here is that the loser of this battle as the swing tackle has the potential for some value in a trade to bring another nice player in return.
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