IRVING, Texas –
His NFL debut against the New York Giants was just a few short months ago. But Frederick said the difference between the player he was in Week 1 and the player he is in Week 12 is startling.
“To me, when we first flipped on the film a little bit last week and saw it, it looked like there was somebody different out there playing, in my eyes,” he said.
Through the rigors of 10 NFL games, Frederick has squared off against the likes of Dontari Poe, Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Kevin Williams. He said the player he sees from the season opener is a little slower, a little more hesitant than he feels now.
“I’ve grown as a player,” he said. “I certainly have a much farther way to go in my development, but I can definitely see that there’s been improvement.”
Now comes another first for the rookie – at least that this level: a second matchup with a divisional foe. Frederick’s Wisconsin teams faced the same opponent twice in his sophomore and junior seasons. The Badgers lost to Michigan State in 2011 and Nebraska in 2012, but in each season they were victorious in Big Ten championship game rematches on both occasions.
Sunday marks the Cowboys’ first return leg in the NFC East, as they face three division rematches in the final six games.
“It’s good to be able to see that because you kind of get a feel and you kind of go back and put yourself back in that situation – what the game was like, what their rushes were like,” he said.
The Giants have nearly tripled their sack tally during their ongoing win streak, with nine coming in the last four games. The Cowboys were the only team New York registered multiple sacks against in the first six games of the season, making it all the more important for Frederick and his offensive line to study the tape.
“Sometimes you see it on film against other opponents, and it’s not exactly the same – it’s their job to study the film and do things special to you, as well,” Frederick said. “So you kind of get that feeling, you can kind of put yourself back in that position. That’s something we did a little bit in college, but it’s definitely helpful here.”
Speaking of Wisconsin, the Cowboys’ trip to New Jersey will be a bit of a throwback to Frederick’s roots. Sunday’s temperature at kickoff promises to be somewhere in the mid-30’s – easily the coldest temperature of the year since Frederick left Big Ten country last fall.
“It’ll certainly bring me back to my roots a little bit – out there practicing in the cold and playing in the cold,” he said. “I certainly prefer a cold game to a hot game.”