OXNARD, Calif. — Typically, if a center is doing his job correctly, nobody is going to discuss his performance.
That was never going to be the case for Travis Frederick, the Cowboys’ first-round selection, in his first preseason game Sunday against Miami.
“It’s a great experience, and I’m glad to have it under my belt,” It was definitely a learning experience — something I can take and hopefully improve on. But I think it went pretty well.”
Frederick was one of the Cowboys’ busiest players in the 24-20 win against the Dolphins. He maintained his spot as the team’s starting centers, and he worked with second-string quarterback Kyle Orton as well as the reserves in place of Tony Romo.
“Assignment-wise, I thought we were pretty good but we need to communicate a little bit better on a couple of things,” Frederick said. “But I think, overall, it was a pretty decent day. I’ll continue to work on the pass protection and a lot of the technique and fundamental things.”
Frederick, as promised by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, also spent part of his second half as the right guard.
“He’s a physical player in there, he’s smart, he’s tough,” Garrett said. “He played mostly center, but he did play some guard at the end of the second quarter, into the third quarter.”
Guard is a position Frederick has some familiarity with, but it wasn’t quite the same comfort level as his center duties.
“I know I had one big mistake at guard, but I don’t feel like I had a big mistake at center,” he said. “There’s little things I need to work on in all areas of my game, and it’s something I’m committed to doing.”
It was only the preseason opener, but Frederick was asked about the change in speed from NFL practice to NFL game. With the caliber of defensive linemen employed in Dallas, however, Frederick said the transition wasn’t as drastic as he’d expected.
“In practice they do a really good job of making things as hard or harder than it’s going to be in the game. We’re going against great competition,” he said. “Obviously there’s going to be some challenges out there, but you’re also going against some of the best, and it kind of helps you build some confidence.”
The Cowboys’ performance rushing the ball has got to be a confidence boost, as well.
Frederick manned the middle for a line that paved the way for 170 yards on 34 attempts — an average of five yards per carry. He said an improved running game has been one of the coaches’ main points throughout training camp, and it showed Sunday.
“The way we ran the ball, the way we were able to run the ball and the fact that we ran the ball all shows those things,” Frederick said. “We’re improving in that, and it’s something we’re committed to.”