Ideal Destination

IRVING, Tex. - When he was acquired from the St. Louis Rams last month in a trade last for linebacker Bobby Carpenter, many felt offensive tackle Alex Barron's tackle would be given a much-needed jumpstart.

But Barron said the notion that he was eager to leave the Rams is inaccurate.

"I wasn't necessarily glad to get out of there," Barron said. "I really thought I'd be there, at least for the last season [of his rookie contract].

"When the trade happened, it actually surprised me a little. Now I'm going to use this year to show the Cowboys what I can do."

What Barron can do never has been in question. While many offensive linemen tote around bulging bellies and less-than-chiseled physiques, Barron — at 6-foot-8 and a long, lean 315 pounds — looks more like Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, right down to the trademark braids on his head.

What has been in question is what he has done. Scouts and coaches see his size, long arms and athletic ability — Barron said he had chances to play college basketball at "some smaller schools" — and drool. But since the Rams grabbed him with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, he has flashed his immense potential amid stretches of inconsistent play.

Barron said his trade to Dallas doesn't represent a "re-birth," but is, instead, a real part of the business that is professional football.

"I don't really feel like I'm starting over," he said. "It's another new experience. I'm going to work hard and learn what they're teaching, and show that they made the right decision trading for me."

That it was the Cowboys who acquired him meant Barron now gets to suit up for the same team as some of the players he admired most when he was a kid.

"I used to watch Nate Newton, Larry Allen, Erik Williams," Barron said. "They were good — really good."

Now he comes to a team that has five veteran players entrenched as starters; since his arrival, Barron has been playing left tackle with the second-team offensive line.

"That helps," he said of coming to a team with such a veteran offensive line. "I can learn a lot from them. They've been together here, and they know what's going on, what is expected.

"When you're not on the field, you learn by getting in mental reps. That's the best way to learn, and you can't have better guys to learn from than these guys."

Barron said he didn't pay attention to the rumors going around in the days before the trade. But when he found out he was headed to Dallas, he said he realized his good fortune, as he left the team that earned the first pick in this year's NFL draft to a team that most view as a contender for a Super Bowl berth.

"When you get traded, you try to impress your new team," Barron said. "I enjoyed my time with the Rams, but I feel pretty lucky to end up in Dallas."

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