GLENDALE, Ariz. – Connor Williams got some playing time at center for the second straight preseason game, this time in the starting lineup instead of regular starter Tyler Biadasz.
"It was a last-minute call," Williams said. "There's just an emphasis on getting me backup center reps, obviously. Just getting in and getting those live center reps ... it's obviously different than practice."
Center still a learning experience for the fourth-year guard. Two snap exchanges with quarterback Garrett Gilbert in the first half against Arizona didn't appear to be clean, including one that Gilbert had to recover before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3 from the Cardinals' 20-yard line.
"I just think it's just getting that comfortability and live reps situation, obviously (needing) more practice and the fine-tuning of the snap, getting perfect on cadence," said Williams, who has been the Cowboys' starting left guard since 2018.
Said Gilbert: "It's preseason. We just need to put a little more work in on that. That's the type of stuff that every play starts with that. Him and I need to put in a little more work with that."
Indeed, that's what preseason is for. Game snaps are valuable for Williams, who has been balancing practice time at center and left guard in training camp.
The Cowboys have been pleased with Biadasz's start to camp as he prepares for his second season. As much as anything, Williams' reps simply could be an effort to establish more depth at center. Veteran Joe Looney was not re-signed in the offseason, and seventh-round draft pick Matt Farniok mostly played other offensive line spots at Wisconsin.
That means giving Williams some game-day reps at a new position, even if it comes with some growing pains.
"His snaps at center (Friday) were the primary objective for Connor, so I wasn't worried as much about how many reps he got at guard," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
In his quarter of work Friday, Williams did have a nice block that helped running back Tony Pollard pick up a 9-yard gain.
"The (pre-snap) calls are becoming easier," Williams said. "It's just getting the comfortability with it and getting more live rep situations.
"Obviously wherever they need me I'm going to be. At the end of the day it's a coach's decision," Williams said. "But as of now, I feel like it (center) is for emergencies."