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Monday, November 23, 2009
Alan Ball and Doug Free progress

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING -- Coach Wade Phillips was pleased with his two new starters, strong safety Alan Ball and right tackle Doug Free. Each made their first career-starts vs. the Redskins on Sunday and now have to turn things around pretty quickly for Thursday's game against the Raiders.

"Yeah, both Free and Ball did some good things," Phillips said. "They weren't perfect, but I thought both of them filled in well enough certainly that you wouldn't say hey, they've got a weakness there because somebody came in looking at us on tape. I don't believe Oakland is going to say we're going to say well, 'We're going to attack the right tackle because he's not good enough to play,' that kind of thing."

Free replaced Marc Colombo who is out until January, basically first round of the playoffs, as he recovers from ankle surgery and a fractured fibula.

Ball took over for Ken Hamlin who is gone for three more weeks with a high-ankle sprain.

"I thought both of them played pretty well," Phillips said of both players. "They did some things that other guys in that position hadn't done as well. Now they did some things that they can improve on and they did make some mistakes, but I think playing another week and both of them starting at that position."