Jerry Jones: Free ‘was nothing short of amazing’ in his debut at RG

IRVING – Doug Free was far from flawless Saturday night in his first action starting at right guard. But the 29-year-old offensive tackle probably did better than many thought he would, especially considering he was going against arguably the best defensive tackle in the game, Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins.

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was very pleased with Free’s performance, saying during a Tuesday morning radio interview that Free “was nothing short of amazing.”

“He was naturally up to the task,” Jones told the New School show on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “He was quick with his hands, that was a real plus. … It was impressive. I don’t want to get too far over our skis here, but it looked good.

“We may have something here with these two guys. It certainly is promising.”

In a search to find the Cowboys’ best first-team offensive line combination, Free moved from right tackle to right guard and Jermey Parnell stepped into the right tackle position Saturday night. Parnell played 70 percent of the offensive snaps and Free played 69 percent.

After underperforming last season, Free accepted a pay cut in May. Instead of being one of the highest paid offensive tackles in the league and making a base salary of $15 million over the next two seasons, Free’s salary was reduced to a total of $7 million over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

“I admire Doug,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday. “I think a lot of Doug. Doug’s one of those guys that epitomizes what you want on your team. If it’s going to make us a better team in the long haul and helps us to get our best five players on the field then Doug’s all for it. So kudos to him. I thought he did a nice job.”

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota