How long? The Cowboys aren't saying, but last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Free and Parnell rotated at the position until Free played on the last two possessions of the game.
When the season started, Parnell was the swing tackle and entered games on special teams and as a tackle-eligible player. But last week against the Bengals, after Free started, Parnell moved in with the first team at right tackle.
Normally a swing tackle spot is reserved for a veteran player, not a young one such as Parnell, who was a basketball player in college before deciding to play football in his senior season at Mississippi.
"You're not real comfortable, I wasn't coming in," offensive line coach Bill Callahan said. "Where's this fella at? He's our third tackle? He's got to come in and step up right away. He's given everyone the confidence that he can step up and play and take a starters role and be at both spots and provide great competition. As he grows through the years, I think it's going to be great for him."
Given Callahan's comments and the actions of the Cowboys last week, you have to think Free's future with the Cowboys is in doubt. But Callahan praised how Free has handled splitting time at tackle. For the second consecutive week, Free and Parnell shared snaps with the first team in practice.
"No one loves Doug Free more than I do," Callahan said. "I think he's a consummate pro, I think he comes to work (he's) the first in and last out. He's great for the room, he provides great leadership and example of our room, he studies better than any pro I've ever been around. He's well prepared, well versed, he has the answers before I even finish the sentence, again, it's tough but we're doing the best thing in terms of what we need for our club and for our ball team. Those are tough decisions and I think it helps everybody. It provides a little bit more competition and you get a little bit more heightened awareness at your spot. I think he'll tell ya, we got to get better and we got to get a little bit more production from that side so we're just trying to improve it anyway we can."