Any success the Cowboys offense achieves this season will be a product of their run game. A healthy Travis Frederick is a requirement for that to flourish.
Centers don’t get a lot of glory in the NFL, but they are vitally important to the success of a team’s offensive line. That’s why the Cowboys cannot afford to lose Travis Frederick for a significant amount of time.
Unfortunately, Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated in Los Angeles after struggling from stingers during most of the preseason. There’s no indication whether or not it will prove to be a serious issue for the Cowboys’ starting center, but it’s an injury Dallas can ill afford.
Frederick is the quarterback of the team’s offensive line. He isn’t necessarily the most physically gifted guy in the group, but he functions as their brain. Sometimes calling the right scheme or protection is more important than overpowering your man in a one-on-one battle. Frederick makes sure all of his guys get lined up in the right spot and headed in the right direction.
It’s an open secret that the Cowboys are going to lean heavily on their run game in 2018. Dak Prescott might have the weakest group of receivers in the league. That means Ezekiel Elliott needs to have a huge season on the ground. He has the talent to make that happen behind this physical offensive line, but losing Frederick would be a massive blow.
If Frederick is forced to miss game time, expect to see Joe Looney get the first shot to replace him. He’s a relatively experience interior lineman, but most of his playing time in the NFL has come at the guard position. Looney has the size and strength to be a solid in-line blocker, but he doesn’t have the feel for the center position to excel as a starter.
Cowboys fans should be on pins and needles until they get an update about Frederick’s status. The team already lacks any margin for error if they want to have an above average offense this season. Losing a quality starter in the offensive line could be fatal to Jason Garrett’s chances at success in Big D.