DALLAS – The leader of the Dallas Cowboys attack line, one of the most respected players in the organization, is ill and no one knows when to return to the field.
But football must continue.
For the Cowboys, who were about to recover what looked like the best attack line on this planet, the last week turned into a nightmare. The time has come when players such as Joe Looney, Cameron Fleming, Chaz Green and even newcomer Connor Williams will have to prove their worth.
It is very likely that Frederick was absent from the start of the regular season after the diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he barely heard and announced on Wednesday.
It is also not known with certainty whether the lineman is also All Pro Zack Martin plays on September 9, when Dallas visits the Carolina Panthers, because of the hyperextension of his left knee that he suffered last Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second game of the preseason.
Looney will be the starting point for the Cowboys, while Frederick, drawn up in the first round of the 2013 design, is out of business. Since then, the Cowboys have never played a regular season game without him.
"You can not replace a boy like Travis Frederick," Looney said. "He is a great player, but more importantly, he is a great person, I try to work as hard as possible and keep going.
"At the end of the day we are all human. (TRavis) has children and you want them to be healthy," he added.
Looney, 27, came to the Cowboys for the 2016 season, from the Tennessee Titans, where he arrived in 2015 after playing with the San Francisco 49ers, who recruited him in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft.
In his career, Looney started 13 games as a starter, including three as a guard for the Cowboys, with whom he routinely participated from the previous season in short yardage situations, in which he plays as sixth offensive lineman to block.
"For that you try to gain depth in the attack line, to keep them working in the camp and pre-season competitions," coach Jason Garrett said in the past few days about Martin's absence.
Probably Garrett had never thought that, in reality, the priority would be to find the replacement of a player who is considered the most intelligent and who is prepared in the game plan of the line.
Maybe Frederick, 27, has less talent than Martin or less athletic ability than Tyron Smith, the left tackle, but knows like no other where, how and when he has to stand to perform his tasks.
It is likely that Frederick knows the attacking system of the Cowboys even better than quarterback Dak Prescott.
The problem becomes bigger when one realizes that Martin is not safe for the first match of the normal calendar. Martin is in fact the third center of the attack line and Looney is one of the back-up guards.
This is where the Cowboys have to start planning for the worst scenario.
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Cameron Fleming arrived this year as a free agent. The Cowboys had to decide if he could play the right tackle to try to bring La Collins back to the left waiting position, which he started when he arrived in Dallas.
However, the Cowboys found Connor Williams in the second round of the 2018 Draft, which was immediately placed as the starting left guard and over-reacted.
Last season, Garrett repeated that he would somehow put his five best players on the line and that included adding left guard to Chaz Green. Total failure
Then, due to Tyron Smith's injury, he placed Green as a left tackle. The failure was worse.
In this week's training was Martin's replacement Kadeem Edwards, the practice manager in 2017, but if the team sees that the situation is prolonged by Frederick's injury, which always helps the guards, Garrett will review their options again .
"Kadeem has been in the competition for a number of years," said Martin about Edwards, who previously held the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who chose him in the 2014 Draft, although he has never participated in an official competition.
"(Kadeem) is strong, big and with long arms, you have to be excited that you can show your talent and have repetitions with the first group, which is what he and all the boys have prepared for him," Martin repeated Edwards.
During his first four seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots, Fleming played the guard and took positions on both sides of the line.
"You always want versatile players who can play different positions," Garrett said a few weeks ago.
It was time to test the hypothesis and test the depth of the best attack line in the NFL.