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Joe Looney may become one of the most important Cowboys at the start of the 2018 season

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The Cowboys comic relief may be getting serious.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Fredrick announced some surprising news on Wednesday night. The Cowboys stud center let the world know he has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can have serious consequences. At this point, we don’t know much about Frederick’s future in terms of overcoming the symptoms of his disease, or returning to playing football again. He’s optimistic about it, and hopes to be back as soon as possible, but there is the serious possibility he might miss at least some of the season.

Nothing is more important than Frederick regaining his health. In football terms though, someone will have to play his position is he is unable to, and that person is almost certainly going to be Joe Looney in the short-term.

Looney has mostly been known for two things while in Dallas: His presence in the “Jumbo Joe” package where he plays as an extra-tight end, and for his sense of humor, including his impersonation of Ezekiel Elliott.

Now, it’s time to get serious. If Frederick misses any amount of time, Looney will have to anchor the Cowboys line and likely take over the duties of calling out any line adjustments while over the ball. He’ll be stepping into a position manned by one of the best in the game, and he will be trying to keep the Cowboys humming with the ability to run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott, and give Dak Prescott time to throw. The Cowboys are truly built on their offensive line, Looney will become one of their most important players for any time that Frederick is unable to play.

Fortunately, Looney is having a really great camp by all accounts, and looked capable in the preseason games against the 49ers and Bengals. Of course, that’s just preseason where the schemes are vanilla and the players are not always top-shelf, but it’s all we have to go on for now.

Looney came to Dallas in 2016 as a free agent after spending time with the 49ers and Titans. The Cowboys re-signed him to a two-year deal this past offseason. In 2016 he started three games for the Cowboys when Ronald Leary was injured. Of course things will be more complicated for Looney and the Cowboys if Zack Martin is also unable to play at the start of the season. The possibility of the Cowboys missing both Frederick and Martin in the middle is a tough thing to contemplate.

We don’t know the future for Frederick, and obviously we wish him the very best. But if he ends up missing time, the Cowboys are going to rely on Joe Looney, a career backup who will be thrust into the spotlight. He’s been getting the job done in the exhibition season, but things will get real on September 9th against Carolina. Here’s hoping Jumbo Joe will be ready if Travis Frederick is not.