5) Can Travis Frederick Return To Form?

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(Football season is finally approaching. After a long offseason, the Cowboys are set to depart for training camp on July 25. During this final month before they begin practice in Oxnard, Calif., the staff of DallasCowboys.com is going to preview the 20 biggest questions facing the Cowboys heading into 2019.)

FRISCO, Texas – As the Cowboys battled back from 3-5 start to win the NFC East title last season, Travis Frederick was there every step of the way while battling a much more serious matter.

The four-time Pro Bowl center did not play last season due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare but treatable auto-immune disease that affects the nervous system. Yet he attended every meeting, every walkthrough and every practice as a sounding board for his teammates.

Now he’s healthy again, having regained his strength and taken part in the Cowboys’ offseason workout program. For nearly a year, he’s been preparing to return to practice at training camp.

It’s almost here. Will Frederick return to form on the offensive line? That’s the next installment in our 20 Questions series.

Rob Phillips: I believe Frederick will be back as an impactful starter in 2019. As optimistic as he and the Cowboys are about a full-fledged return to football, the veteran center has been very candid in explaining his recovery and the challenges ahead. All along he’s emphasized that the true test will come in training camp when the pads come on. He was on a modified workout plan during the offseason, due in part to an offseason shoulder repair that was unrelated to his GBS recovery. So, while his progress has been steady and very encouraging, he has yet to take part in a true padded practice against powerful defensive linemen. It’s something he’s really looking forward to after everything he’s been through. No question he and the Cowboys’ medical/athletic training staff have done everything to prepare.

Nick Eatman: I honestly can’t say I have the answer to that. But I don’t feel bad about it because I don’t really know if Travis Frederick does either. Everything he’s told us in this process is that he’ll have to wait until the pads come on and how his strength holds up when he’s in the middle of practices every day. But what I do know, is the Cowboys will be prepared for whatever happens. And that’s a good thing. If Frederick comes back to form, then that’s a huge upgrade to what they had last year. If not, they know Joe Looney will step in and give them a very solid starter in the middle. Plus, with Connor McGovern now in the mix, the Cowboys would have even more center depth than before. My gut says that Frederick will be back, maybe a bit rusty at first but will eventually find his groove. That might be a little tricky if the Cowboys have to make tough roster decisions with that depth.

David Helman: There’s a small group of players on this team that I have mentally resolved to never bet against. Travis Frederick is one of those guys. Being around him for the last six years, it’s just hard to doubt his work ethic, his toughness or his intelligence. Obviously, my opinion doesn’t affect his ability to put on pads and play like the All-Pro he was before he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. That’s a serious illness to overcome. But if anyone can do it, it’s Frederick. It’s going to take some hard work, but I think he’ll be back like he never missed a beat.

Bryan Broaddus: In all of my years covering the NFL, I have never experienced dealing with a player that has been more open about his ailment than Travis Frederick. I knew nothing about Guillain-Barre syndrome when Frederick first came forward with the information. What I did know that Frederick was a tough guy and if there was one person that could battle this head on, it was him. I’ve had the opportunity to interview him several times since and each time I’ve come away more positive about a full recovery. Frederick says he’s not only regained his strength but his motor skills as well that the syndrome robbed him of at this time last season. Frederick has taken this recovery day by day but by all indications he’s ready to see what lies ahead. I bet against Frederick one time before when he was drafted. My plan this time around is not to make that same mistake. I believe that Travis Frederick will once again regain that form that made him one of the best centers in the NFL.

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