IRVING, Texas – Swing tackle Jermey Parnell could be an option at right tackle moving forward.
Parnell's only start this season came at left tackle, but head coach Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Bill Callahan said Parnell's also working at right tackle and must be prepared for either position.
"We're always looking for opportunities to play him," Garrett said. "He does get work in practice, and we'll talk about that right tackle spot."
The right tackle spot currently belongs to Doug Free, who's the most penalized player in the league and has struggled in recent weeks stopping rushers from getting to quarterback Tony Romo. Neither coach said Parnell will take over for Free, but both complimented the job Parnell has done in limited time.
Garrett said Parnell has received "a lot of work in practice," and he's witnessed a noticeable difference in Parnell's play from the beginning of the season to his start at left tackle on Thanksgiving when Tyron Smith sat out with an ankle injury.
Most of Parnell's work this season has occurred in three tight-end sets, but Garrett said those limited opportunities helped him fill in when Smith went out.
"That might not sound very significant, but it's really significant for a guy who hasn't played very much to go out there in those critical situations," Garrett said. "To be honest with you, early on in the year, he didn't handle it very well. But we felt like it was important to persist with that, keep giving him chances. He's gotten better and better just in handling the situation, the snap count, his assignment, their adjustments. He's done a really good job with that."
Oddly enough, most of his penalties this season came in three tight-end situations, rather than his start at left tackle. Callahan said Parnell still needs work and is maturing as an offensive lineman, but Parnell's start at left tackle gave Callahan "tremendous confidence."
The former basketball player has come a long way as a football player in Callahan's eyes.
"Every week we prepare Parnell to play, period," Callahan said. "Should that occur on the left side like it did, or the right side, we just always want him to be prepared for that opportunity. We do it a lot of different ways, by implementing him in the jumbo package in short yardage, in goal line, giving him a role where he can get on the field. I think that just helps his experience factor, so when he gets back on the field, he gets a little bit more confidence from that."