Free, a fourth round draft pick in 2007 out of Northern Illinois, has seen limited time since coming into the league and spent a great deal of his young career inactive. He replaced Colombo after the first quarter of last Sunday's loss to Green Bay, after the starter suffered a broken fibula.
Offensive line coach Hudson Houck said that the team tinkered with several options, including moving Leonard Davis to tackle, where he played for a season in Arizona. However, the team opted against making two moves to counteract one injury.
"The best [option] is exactly what we're doing," Houck said today. "[Free] can now zero in on playing just the right side."
The most significant playing time of Free's career thus far was the regular season finale against Washington in 2007, when Dallas had the division and home field advantage secure going into week 17. In this light, DeMarcus Ware has taken to preparing him to face an adept Redskins' defensive front by going against him in practice this week.
"Doug's been going against me every day in practice," Ware said yesterday in the News. "He stops me a lot. He's practiced against Greg [Ellis] when he was here. [Anthony] Spencer, a lot of good pass rushers. To be honest, Doug is really good. I think it's about him getting his confidence and even in practice I told him instead of going against the second-team guy I want to practice against you because you're going to have to go against a good pass rusher.
"I'm going to help to make sure he's ready so it's not going to be anything he hasn't seen. He's going to see the real thing in practice. I'll go over there."