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Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Is Free ready to take over at left tackle?


Several young players, including left tackle Doug Free, saw extensive action in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' victory over Seattle on Sunday.


The Cowboys have been pleased with the play of starter Flozell Adams but eventually would like Free to take over the starting position.


Free, a fourth-round pick in 2007 who's played in only one regular-season game prior to this season, took over for Adams on a few plays in a Week 3 win over Carolina.


At some point, the Cowboys have to find out what they have in the 25-year-old Free. They've tried to replace Adams, 34, the last few years but draft picks Pat McQuistan and James Marten, who's no longer with the team, haven't panned out. Meanwhile, Free has emerged as the backup to Adams.


"I think it's important for us. That's why we played him some," coach Wade Phillips said of Free. "I just think if a guy ... if he practices good enough and is good enough to play, then he deserves to get in the game sometimes.


"It helps his attitude and the confidence in the team in that guy when they see him do some good things."


What also complicates matters is Adams' contract. He's signed through 2013 and -- in addition to his 2010 base salary of $5 million -- is scheduled to get a $2.5 million roster bonus in the offseason. If there isn't a new CBA, next year will be an uncapped year. Cowboys officials have said they will not use it to purge salaries, especially high-priced veterans such as Adams.


But if Free shows he can become the starter, then Adams might get released.