BATTLE IN THE TRENCHES: Cowboys encouraged by Jermey Parnell’s progress; may work into right tackle spot

The Dallas Cowboys are going to think about Jermey Parnell at right tackle down the line, now that they’re encouraged by the way he bounced back from a rough start to the season.

Dallas Cowboys tackle Jermey Parnell (78) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Frostee Rucker (right) battle in first half - The Boys Are Back blog

Playing as the third tight end, he missed a block on a key short-yardage situation in the season opener against the Giants. In the same role, he had a false start at Baltimore in the fourth-quarter drive that could have tied the game for the Cowboys, and he had a holding penalty against Cleveland that made the Cowboys settle for a field goal in the first half.

But he played cleanly in his only start, at left tackle in place of Tyron Smith on Thanksgiving against the Washington Redskins, and it reinforced the Cowboys’ faith in him.

“We’ve tried to use him a lot in the three tight-end situations all year long,” coach Jason Garrett said Thursday at his press conference at Valley Ranch. “That might not sound very significant, but it’s really significant for a guy who hasn’t played very much to go out there in those critical situations. And to be honest with you, early on in the year, he didn’t handle it very well. But we felt it was important to persist with that, keep giving him chances. He’s gotten better and better just in handling the situation, the snap count, his assignments, their adjustments. He improved, and I think it helped him when he played when Tyron was out.”

But left tackle appears to be manned with Smith. Right tackle might open up if the Cowboys decide to move on from Doug Free.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to play him,” Garrett said of Parnell. “He does get work in practice, and we’ll talk about that right tackle spot.”

EDITORS COMMENT: The thought of Parnell being worked into the right tackle spot may inspire Doug Free to play more consistently. Competition makes every player better.

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