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Despite Rookie Competition, Weems Enjoys Strong Spring Season

IRVING, Texas – The narrative had already been crafted before offseason practices even began.

Having lost Jermey Parnell in free agency, the Cowboys spent a third-round pick on Chaz Green to help fill the hole at swing tackle, and to grow into a future starter. That narrative took an even loftier turn when La'el Collins signed on, giving the team a first-round talent to use at either guard, tackle – or both.

Darrion Weems didn't quite fit into that narrative – fortunately for him, he wasn't listening to it in the first place.

"You don't think about any of that. You just come out every day and you work to get better," he said. "If you're thinking about everything that's being said and done around you, you'd go crazy."

Despite all the aforementioned speculation about rookies, it's Weems who has spent the better part of the last month as the Cowboys' right tackle. The main reason for that is the ongoing recovery of Doug Free, who underwent ankle surgery earlier in the offseason. But still, the primary choice of replacement has been the fourth-year veteran who was undrafted in 2012 – rather than the high-profile youngsters.

"It's just good to get out there and get my feet back under me, get some good working going," Weems said. "Just playing ball again and getting the offense back in my mind and the techniques and things – it's been good, it's been fun."

The fact that Weems hasn't been playing is a big factor in why he seemed lost in the shuffle at tackle. He injured his shoulder almost at the outset of training camp last summer, and he was sent to injured reserve without playing a snap for the season.

"He's dealt with a couple of injuries the last couple of years. So even though he has been in the league, he's still inexperienced," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

He has certainly looked competent in practices – albeit unpadded practices – this spring. The coaching staff has experimented at times with playing Collins at right tackle, but the lion's share of the starting reps have gone to Weems.

"Every rep is key," he said. "Doug is there constantly, in my ear, letting me know the things I'm doing wrong, things I'm doing right. He's being very vocal and great and helping me come along."

None of this means anything is decided, especially with training camp still five weeks in the distance. But Collins certainly looks comfortable on the interior, and the Cowboys just announced that Green has undergone surgery on a hip flexor.

It doesn't seem like a bad bet that Weems could earn that much-discussed swing tackle job for himself – not that he's listening to that narrative, either.

"All you can do is go out every day and work hard – try to become the best you," he said. "Everything else takes care of itself."

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