When Doug Free went down with a fractured bone in his foot in the Dallas Cowboys' win over Seattle two weeks ago, the alternative wasn't too promising.
In fact, many folks were left wondering why Jeremy Parnell was on the Cowboys' roster after the team broke training camp, when Parnell was, for lack of better words, awful. But in Sunday's win over the New York Giants — the Cowboys' sixth straight victory — Parnell played every offensive snap at tackle and drew some pretty solid reviews from his head coach.
"Technically it's always a work in progress with a player who hasn't played that much and that's something we can hone in on when he gets a chance to see the tape to continue to try to improve," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told ESPN Dallas. "But the game never seemed too big for him. It looked like he communicated well with Zack [Martin] and with Jason Witten in the blocking schemes and handled that part of it well.
"He's played the way he's played in games before, which is good. What's exciting is he can improve immensely and I think he'll improve with experience and coaching. He has an attitude that he wants to get better. I think it's a nice opportunity for him to continue to grow as a player."
Free is only expected to miss two, possibly three, more games with a minor injury, but it certainly wouldn't hurt for Parnell to show he can be effective because as great as the Cowboys' offensive line has been, depth has been a concern. Parnell playing well for a few weeks could alleviate that.