FRISCO, Texas – It was a bit of a different mood in the Cowboys' locker room on Thursday, and understandably so.
It's one thing to address an injury to a teammate, as players cope with strains and tears on a regular basis. But to process the news about Travis Frederick, who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome this week, is a different story altogether.
"It's a tough situation, I know it was a scary situation for him," said Zack Martin on Thursday. "But we're going to do our best to keep working without him, but we are thinking about him and he's in our prayers."
Following the strict definition, Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare condition that sees one's immune system attack the nervous system. To the point, though, it's not the type of problem encountered very often in a football locker room
"To be honest, I don't know a whole lot about it – and I don't think a lot of people know a lot about it," Martin said. "But he has gotten the best care down here, and they have him on a plan to do everything they can to help him get healthy first."
Frederick's linemates said they had all spoken with him and noted his upbeat mentality about the situation. Given that this problem has been bothering him since training camp, it's probably a bit of a relief simply to know what he's dealing with.
Before he worries about returning to the lineup, though, the Cowboys pointed out that there are bigger issues at stake.
"Travis has two kids, a wife – so things are bigger than football," said Joe Looney. "Focus on that. He wants to be able to play with his kids."
On the football side of things, it'll be Looney who fills Frederick's shoes. The versatile veteran is entering his seventh year in the league and his third with the Cowboys. It's easier said than done to replace a four-time Pro Bowler, but Looney said he'd do his best.
"Like I said the other day, you can't replace Travis – as a person, as a player," Looney said. "He means a lot to this team, so we're going to miss him. Hopefully we get him back soon enough and healthy."
Fortunately for Looney, familiarity is on his side. He has spent much of the last two years at Frederick's side, and he has gotten a lot of reps over the course of training camp and the preseason. Looney started at center in last week's game against Cincinnati and handled himself admirably, by all accounts.
"I sit next to Travis in meetings, so we would pick each others minds on 'What calls are you going to make here?' So we'll all be on the same page, just in case if something happens," Looney said. "Like I said, we've prepared for this, and I'm ready to take it on."
That doesn't mean it won't be strange. Martin noted to reporters that, when he lined up against the Bengals last Saturday, it was the first time in his five-year career he had taken game reps without Frederick.
There's currently no way of knowing when Frederick might return, but it sounds like might be something Martin has to get used to. Given what he's currently facing, though, that's the least of his teammates' worries.
"I just told him to get his rest and make sure he does everything they ask of him, and we'll be looking forward to getting him back," said La'el Collins. "But the main thing is he's got to take care of himself first."