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Offseason | 2024

T.J. Bass on 'process' of center before camp battle


FRISCO, Texas — When T.J. Bass was acquired as an undrafted free agent shortly after the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft, it was seen as a valuable addition given Bass' strong interior play while at Oregon and the ceiling he still has ahead.

What may not have been foreseen at that moment was the type of impact he would make as a rookie, as he went on to play in all 17 games including two starts in place of injured starters. The depth option that Bass provided was huge, as he provided a strong force to the interior offensive line and walked away after the season as arguably the team's best rookie.

Heading into year two, the work is continuing for the now established Bass who now finds himself lurking in the shadows of a competitive center battle that awaits the team when it arrives in Oxnard, Calif. for training camp next month while also being the primary depth option at guard behind Zack Martin and Tyler Smith.

"I feel like I've had a really good offseason, especially coming back here," Bass said. "I was training out in Arizona and then I'll go back out there during this break before camp. I just want to see a big jump out of myself when it comes to knowledge and technique and the little stuff."

The center position is not one that Bass has had to soak in as much as he has had to this offseason, as the "process" has been entirely different than what he has grown used to at guard.

"It's more the process of it is completely different, because everybody is off of you," he said. "When I'm at right guard, I'll walk up and know where we're going, but at center you're making those calls. It's just different. Just trying to get the process down."

With Zack Martin not taking team reps during OTAs and minicamp, Bass got the majority of his work at right guard during the team's offseason workouts, but the center reps have still been present. While he feels most comfortable at right guard in the present time, he admits that it changes based on where he gets the most reps in practice.

"It's weird how it changes," he said. "It depends where I get most reps and I've been getting most reps at right guard. It also helps to watch Zack and catch little things."

While Martin has been a mentor for the young rising talent, Bass himself has taken on the task of helping bring along rookie Cooper Beebe in his first few months with the Cowboys. Even though Beebe is technically Bass' competition at multiple positions up front, Bass and fellow interior lineman Brock Hoffman have kept it professional and have embraced the new member of their offensive line unit just like they would with anyone else.

"This is the NFL where the best guy is going to play, so you're not going to try to sabotage him or anything like that," Bass said. "You have to put your ego aside, and if he needs help, help him. Outside of the building, hang out. It's different in other places, but in our room, that matters to us."

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