IRVING, Texas – Starting right tackle Doug Free is expected to miss three to four weeks with his foot injury, according to Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
"He's dealing with a fracture there that is usually a three-to-four week injury," Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. "Because of the position he plays, which is not a skill position – a position that would allow him to compensate some – then he might be back sooner. We're looking at three to four weeks."
Free left Sunday's 30-23 win against Seattle during the Cowboys' go-ahead touchdown drive in the dying minutes. The team inserted backup tackle Jermey Parnell into Free's place on the line, and DeMarco Murray ran behind Parnell and Jason Witten for a 15-yard touchdown on the ensuing play.
"We've got Parnell there that is dealing with some ribs, but still really held a good account of himself in the game – the few plays that he played in the game," Jones said. "We've got a lot of confidence in him, although I don't want to take anything away from Doug Free, his leadership."
This comes as the first big issue for an offensive line that has paved the way for the Cowboys' success this season. While Free recovers from the injury, Jones said Parnell will remain the starter on the right side, where he split time at the position in 2012.
With two career starts, he's easily the most experienced option on the Cowboys' roster – ahead of Donald Hawkins and practice squad member John Wetzel.
"He's got a lot of talent, and he's just got to not make mistakes," Jones said of Parnell.
As for other options, Jones said he was reluctant to do any shifting – such as trying rookie Zack Martin as a backup tackle. He also said he doesn't expect the Cowboys to look for help outside their current roster.
"We're hesitating to move over, and we'll continue to look at what those options are," he said. "I don't see, realistically, an option out here that's a practice squad or on the street. I don't see adding personnel that could make a difference.
"I think we'll do what we have to do, of course, if we have a breakdown during a ball game, but right now Parnell is our answer – and a good one."