FRISCO, Texas – While the All-Pro center has remained optimistic throughout the process, Travis Frederick seems to be on track to make a full recovery for the 2019 season.
Coupled with the fact the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern to play both guard and center, and the fact that Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo also provide the team with solid depth at left guard, one might wonder just where Joe Looney will fit into the mix?
Looney might be wondering, but he doesn't seem worried at all.
"I've always been that guy in my career that chips are going to fall where they fall," the always-jolly veteran lineman said after an OTA practice. "Whatever happens, happens. My role is to be the best player that I can be. When the team needs me, my job is to be ready."
A year ago, the chips fell into Looney's lap and he was certainly ready for it. While the Cowboys had to deal with the sudden loss of Frederick, who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome that sidelined him for the entire season, they were fortunate to have Looney waiting to take over.
Replacing a four-time Pro Bowler such as Frederick is nearly impossible, but Looney stepped in nicely for the Cowboys, starting all 16 regular-season games and two in the playoffs.
When asked about his performance in 2018, Looney shrugged it off and shifted the credit elsewhere.
"I feel like when I first came here, coming to the Cowboys really helped my career out," said Looney, who played three seasons with the 49ers and another in Tennessee before joining the Cowboys in 2016. "Coming in and being around Travis, Zack [Martin] and Tyron [Smith], seeing how they work and master their craft. It made me want to be a better player. I have to give credit to those guys. They really helped me get to where I was last year."
But even if that means taking a step back in 2019, Looney not only understands the situation, he embraces it.
"Travis is the best center in the league," he said. "The way I look at it, I was brought to the Cowboys to be a backup and that's my role on this team. When my number is called, I have to be ready to play. It was unfortunate what happened to 'Trav' last year. Thankfully I sat next to him for three years so he could help me get to the point where I was in my career to help the team. It wasn't my spot to begin with. Travis is the best in the league."
But what makes Looney a valuable piece to the team is the versatility he brings, particularly on game day since he can be a backup at center and both guard spots.
"Whatever happens will happen," he said. "Right now, it's about getting better. If my number is called, I'll be ready."
Something he more than proved a year ago.