Recently I took a look at how the Dallas Cowboys left tackle, Tyron Smith, was not resting on his laurels after earning his first Pro Bowl berth in 2013. Now it is Smith's fellow first-round selection on the offensive line who is speaking out about his desire to keep elevating his game. My front-page colleague Tom Ryle stated in his look at the Dallas sophomore class yesterday that the Cowboys center appears to have picked up where he left off last season. Let's take a closer look at what the man who became known to BTB readers as "Fredbeard" and what he has been doing to better himself.
Tyron Smith Working To Get Better
Cowboys first-round draft pick in 2011, tackle Tyron Smith, announced his "intentions" to play his way into the Hall Of Fame. The Tyronosauarus still maintains the determination to better his game after receiving a Pro Bowl nod in 2013.
Even with a successful campaign behind him, Frederick does not consider himself as an established player in Dallas; at least not yet. He realizes that he is still learning and that he has a way to go to reach his full potential.
"I don’t feel like a grizzled vet – I feel like I’m not as much of a rookie. I know what’s going on. It’s the same adjustments I was talking about with Zack – you know what’s next, you know how to handle what’s going on, so that’s going to help you, in turn, focus on the little things. In general, you know what the concepts are and things, so you can really focus on the techniques and getting better at the smaller things." - Travis Frederick
On a team that was criticized in the recent past for having a sense of entitlement without having done anything to earn it first, the revelation of a player like Frederick who is dedicated to improving himself every day is a breath of fresh air. The Cowboys center is striving to pay his dues in the National Football League and he knows that he is going to have to keep doing the things that got him to this point in his career if he expects to progress further. That means that he will be putting in the time working on the minute details of his game.
"In college, it’s just about getting it done. If you’re strong, you have a better opportunity, because no matter where you grab, usually you can just hold on, but in the NFL, obviously with the great talent we play against – and even here in practice, with the talent we play against every day – you really have to focus on where you’re placing your hands. An inch can really make a huge difference." - Travis Frederick
The second-year center continues to work under the watchful eyes of Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack on getting better at the tiny little details that can make all the difference in the success of a play. The phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff" is not in a top-notch offensive lineman's vocabulary. Success is found in the details, and Mr. Frederick is determined to experience as much success as he possibly can.
In addition to working on the perfection of the physical tools needed for his craft, the second year offensive lineman out of Wisconsin is also working on the mental and leadership roles that come with anchoring the middle of an NFL offensive line. Frederick and quarterback Tony Romo have spent plenty of time during the off season working together on how they can improve as a tandem. The duo spent a large amount of time working together in the film room because of Romo's back injury; they worked to insure that they were on the same page mentally.
"I’m going to try and do as much as I can to take as much as I can off Tony that he was doing before for the offensive line, not necessarily because I was a rookie or this or that, but because, if I can see it better, that’s going to take one thing off his plate and that’s going to help the team as a whole."
Frederick realizes that by improving his ability to communicate information to his line-mates, he will be helping to improve the performance of the group as a unit. The responsibility to get the five studs upfront on the same page falls squarely on his shoulders and Frederick is determined to be up to that task. No matter how talented a Tyron Smith may be individually, he can only be truly effective if he is working in conjunction with his teammates, and that will only happen if Frederick does his job properly.
For a group that will enter 2014 with high expectations on its shoulders, the challenge will be great but so is the opportunity. Any success that the Cowboys offensive line experiences will begin inside with Travis Frederick. He is devoting a large portion of his off-season work to meeting that obligation to the men who line up along side him on Sunday afternoons.