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Doug Free playing new position for Dallas Cowboys

Not in college. Not in high school. Not in Pop Warner football. Doug Free of the Dallas Cowboys hasn't played guard at any level of football until Wednesday's practice.

Welcome to the Cowboys' 2013 offensive line problems. Fans will find this twist new, but the general angst is familiar.

"With the injury situations we have had up front, we are just looking at different combinations," coach Jason Garrett explained.

The Cowboys lost left guards Nate Livings and Ronald Leary to knee surgeries earlier this month. Free has been competing with Jermey Parnell at right tackle throughout camp, a battle the Cowboys hoped Free would win considering his $3.5 million salary. Free took a huge pay cut just to stay in Dallas, and yet he still might wind up as the NFL's highest-paid backup. The 6-foot-6, seven-year pro practiced at right guard Wednesday, with Mackenzy Bernadeau sliding to the left side.

This is the week of the preseason when teams want to lock in their starting units. Instead, the Cowboys once again are searching for a combination that works. Free might be playing a brand-new position, but this is a story we've heard before.

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