Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick revealed on Twitter Wednesday that he’s suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome. The disease causes the body to attack a network of nerves around the brain and spinal cord, as ESPN’s Todd Archer revealed, courtesy of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
There’s obviously a major concern for Frederick’s health, but fortunately, the above institute states even the most severe cases typically have a full recovery. In terms of football, though, there’s no timeline for the 27-year-old to return to action for the Cowboys.
When the news came out, it was expected Joe Looney would step in to start at center, which is something head coach Jason Garrett even confirmed Thursday.
“Joe Looney’s taken a lot of snaps in his [Frederick] absence up to this point. We signed a center the other day, we have some other options that we can look towards as we go forward. But for now, Joe Looney’s taken those snaps with the ones and again, he’s handled that work really well up to this point.” Garrett told reporters.
When the Cowboys coach was asked about other potential options along with Looney, he offered up an interesting name in guard Zack Martin.
“Zack Martin’s going to be our right guard, but his flexibility and his versatility to possibly play tackle if we need him to, or possibly play center if we needed him to is certainly a plus for us as all this stuff unfolds.” Garrett stated, per the team.
Obviously, Martin will remain at right guard, but the idea has at least been brought up should a situation arise where he’s needed.
“We’ve talked about Zack Martin’s versatility really throughout his career. His ability to play tackle, that’s what he played in college, and his ability to snap the ball, he’s worked on that in the past. We do anticipate him being our right guard, but that’s somebody in-house you could talk about as a safety net as we go forward.” Garrett finished.
It’s a positive sign someone as talented as Martin is capable of shifting to center if needed. That’s not the scenario the Cowboys hope to see play out, but it’s worth noting, considering Frederick stated there’s no timetable for his return in his original tweet.
Looney was also the man in the middle during practice Thursday, and according to The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins, it was Dustin Stanton and Jacob Ohnesorge behind him on the depth chart. Assuming Frederick is unable to go in Week 1, which seems likely, expect to see the former fourth-round pick get the nod.
Looney has played 59 games over six NFL seasons with 13 starts over that span. He began his career with the San Francisco 49ers and spent one year with the Tennessee Titans before going to Dallas in 2016.