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Sunday, December 9, 2012
Doug Free, Jermey Parnell rotate at right tackle

By Calvin Watkins

CINCINNATI -- In a surprise move, the Cowboys rotated the right tackle spot between Doug Free and Jermey Parnell in their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Free started the game, and then Parnell came in on the second possession of the game. Free also started in the second half and finished the last two drives of the contest, which were scores for the offense.

Parnell and Free shared snaps with the first team offense in practice last week. There were numerous questions targeted toward coach Jason Garrett about Free's play. Free has struggled this season in pass protection and now the Cowboys have placed him on notice he needs to play better.

Free declined to comment after the game, but Parnell said he was a little surprised by the move.

"Anything that I can do to help, I'm just trying to help everyday," Parnell said. "I just want to keep working. I believe in what the coaches say and I believe in what the coaches want. I respect Dougie the most, he's our leader on the o-line and we've got to keep working."

Free was penalized just once, for holding, and Parnell wasn't flagged.

The rotation of Free and Parnell was a powerful message sent by Garrett and the rest of the offensive coaches to Free that he need to perform better. Garrett isn't afraid to bench players. He sat former starting guard Leonard Davis during a game two seasons ago. Garrett has also reduced the playing time of skill position players. Rookie tight end James Hanna started with veteran Jason Witten during a two-tight end formation on Sunday over John Phillips.

"Well, we just wanted to give Jermey a chance," Garrett said. "He has done a good job. He played a few weeks ago when Tyron (Smith) was out and showed that he can play in this league. We tried to give him some snaps in practice. He
responded well to that. Doug responded well to it. So we just felt like in that situation it was justified. We started
Doug. Then we put Jermey in there and we kept that rotation going throughout the ball game."