IRVING, Texas – Right tackle Doug Free shrugged off the notion he is playing without confidence.
But frustration? Yeah, that was a different story, with a different answer.
"I'm definitely frustrated. There are times where I do a great job," Free said. "There are other times where I don't get it done exactly perfect. It's something I don't want to be part of. I want everything to look great. I want everything to be great."
Free knows he was far from great on Sunday, when the Cowboys allowed seven sacks against the Browns, who entered the game with the NFL's 24th ranked defense. Free was part of at least three of those sacks on Tony Romo.
Free, who started the last two seasons at left tackle, was switched to the right side with Tyron Smith moving to the left. Smith suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday and could miss Thursday's game. If so, the Cowboys will likely go with Jermey Parnell at left tackle. Parnell played his first game at tackle Sunday, but Free appeared to have more problems on his side.
Head coach Jason Garrett was asked Tuesday why Free's play has dipped this season.
"Players just have to battle. It's a hard league. It's a hard game," Garrett said. "Every time you break the huddle you're going to get challenged by the other side. Offensive tackles in this league usually face really good pass rushers, and Doug has done a good job at different times. He needs to play more consistently, and we work very hard as coaches to help him do that. He is a part of that. He's done some good things this year. He's got to play more consistently protecting against some of these really good rushers in this league."
So how does Free bounce back this week, especially on a short week against the Redskins? Free said it's a matter of sticking to the game plan and relying on his technique and skills that got him here.
"Every game is a challenge. Some games are better than others," Free said. "But every game you can look at it and say I did this wrong, I did that wrong. Some are worse than others, but I mean every game you've got things to work on, things to fix, you've got to stay focused on the task at hand."
While Garrett said he has confidence things will turn around for Free, tight end Jason Witten echoed the same sentiments.
"He is a fighter. You keep encouraging him and give everything you can to help and keep his spirits up," Witten said of Free. "He loves playing. You have seen him develop into this player from being a backup to a starter and a top guy. You do encourage him and try to build him up. Any time you get to passing 50 times, it can be tough for those offensive linemen. I think they do a good keeping their composure. They know the bar is set high for them. But the best thing you can say about them is their expectations are high too. They have a high standard for what they want to do. Hopefully they will all bounce back."