IRVING, Texas -- Right now, the rookie center serves as a mentor of sorts for the graybeard guard.
Of course, first-round pick Travis Frederick isn’t a typical rookie. He arrived at Valley Ranch with an engineering degree from Wisconsin and a football IQ that’s even more impressive than his honor-roll grade-point average. He’s been a starter since the first snap of offseason workouts, and has consistently displayed a mastery of the mental aspect of playing center in the NFL.
“This center is young and smart,” 36-year-old guard Brian Waters said after his first practice with the Cowboys. “He’s not going to need much help from me. I’m probably going to need more help from him than he’s going to need from me.”
The North Texas-educated Waters, a six-time Pro Bowl selection with 165 career starts, won’t need anyone to hold his hand. He proved in New England that it doesn’t take him long to learn a new playbook. He signed with the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2011 and started the season opener eight days later.
It’s just a bonus to have the man who will play next to Waters help expedite the process of preparing him to join the starting lineup, which could happen as early as Week 2.
The tables will turn soon. Frederick anticipates Waters being a tremendous resource for him during his rookie season.
“I think it’s different things that we’re learning from each other,” Frederick said. “The things that I know are very basic in the game -- the terminology and the way that things run here. I’ve started to pick that up, and that I can help him with. The things that you learn playing in the NFL for 10 years, I have no idea, but those are the things I can learn from him.
“They’re harder to learn. They take more time, and they take somebody that’s been through it all to help you if you want to get it faster than they got it, or faster than 10 years down the road. I think the things that he can teach me are more important than anything I can give to him.”
Right tackle Doug Free, with 55 career starts, was the most experienced member of an offensive line that is expected to include 22-year-old left tackle Tyron Smith, redshirt rookie left guard Ronald Leary, and Frederick. The presence of Waters should benefit all of the pups once the vet gets his feet under him.
“I already started picking his brain about everything,” said Leary, who spent almost all of last season on the practice squad. “It’s a blessing for him to be here for a young player like me, because he knows everything about the game. I’m going to try to get all I can from him.”