Cowboys' Free faces crucial tests

Posted Sept. 17, 2010 @ 4:22 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

All the talk this week was about the miserable game from Alex Barron, who had three holding penalties in the Week One start in place of ORT Marc Colombo. But now that Barron will go back to the bench, the focus of attention could turn predominantly toward OLT Doug Free. Although Free was OK in the loss to the Redskins, he faces two major tests in the next two games: Bears DE Julius Peppers and Texans DE Mario Williams. Both will line up at times opposite Free, who didn't face any pass rushers of their caliber last season in his first seven starts. Having Colombo and OLG Kyle Kosier back will help the entire unit's cohesion and ability to slant protections toward the left side, if needed. But there will be times when Free is charged with taking on Peppers or Williams one-on-one without pass-protection help, defending QB Tony Romo's blind side. It's a daunting task, and we've seen what kind of attention Barron's struggles brought.