Due to a broken fibula suffered by tackle Marc Colombo in week ten at Green Bay, Doug Free was thrust into action this season, receiving that proverbial baptism by fire; thankfully, for the Cowboys, the former fourth round pick flourished.
Colombo returned in the final two weeks of the season, but after being thoroughly whipped by Minnesota's Ray Edwards in the divisional round, his future as the starter can be added to the heap of looming off-season questions.
In what will likely set up as an intriguing training camp position battle, it will be the card-carrying mauler Colombo, who excels at run blocking, against the uber-quick Free. Free was drafted for his quick feet and deft pass-protecting skills, and he gained a legion of fans when he beat Felix Jones downfield on a touchdown run in week 17 against Philadelphia.
Jerry Jones went out of his way last month in an appearance on 105.3 The Fan to praise Free, saying that the team "had a player in him." Beyond that, many fans were vocally opposed to Colombo returning to the starting lineup after Free flourished through seven weeks as his replacement.
None of this augurs well for Colombo. However, the veteran will not likely be supplanted without a fight. Aside from being a superb run-blocker, Colombo is a sort of emotional leader for the unit.
Since we have more than a while before the Cowboys reconvene for training camp, we'll leave it to you: based on what we saw from Free and Colombo this season, who do you want starting at right tackle when Dallas breaks camp for the 2010 season--Colombo or Free.
Yours in the comments.