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Mailbag: Which Players Are Primed For Breakout Seasons?
Who is your "breakout player” on offense and defense this season?
David: Would it be fair to call Bruce Carter a “breakout player?” He’s already an established starter, but I think he’s really going to thrive in this switch back to his old college position. On the other side, I’m going to buy what the Cowboys are selling and say Gavin Escobar. With weapons like Jason Witten and Dez Bryant stealing the spotlight, it doesn’t seem like too tall of an order for the rookie tight end to make some inattentive defenses pay.
Bryan: I have said all along that I thought that James Hanna was going to have a breakout season and that is even with Gavin Escobar on the roster. Hanna has become a reliable receiver with soft hands and he has the ability to get up the field and present himself as a target which I feel is key. I think it’s going to take some time for Escobar to develop as a blocker and this is where Hanna is going to take advantage of him while he learns. Also keep an eye on Lance Dunbar as a third down back if he wins the job. There are some of his teammates that feel he can be a 50 catch player in this offense. On defense, I believe this is the season where Morris Claiborne gets his hands on several balls during the season. He has added strength but hasn’t lost quickness. He will grow more comfortable in this scheme.
I follow Virginia Tech football and was pleasantly surprised when Dallas chose Danny Coale. He seemed to come through time after time for the Hokies. Do you think he gets pushed out in a numbers game or will he get a real shot in mini-camp (if he's healthy)?
David: It’s never easy for young wide receivers on a team that has established players at the position. The Cowboys probably have room for six wide receivers, and Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Terrance Williams are all givens. Dwayne Harris is probably a safe bet, too. So you’ve got seven or eight guys fighting for two or three spots, and Coale isn’t yet fully healthy. The Cowboys clearly like what they see, since they drafted him and have stuck with him. But it will be a challenge for him.
Bryan: I spoke with Coale on Thursday and he feels like he is making real progress in his rehab and should be ready here soon. The medical staff is feeling the same way. You are right about how he played at Virginia Tech because in the games I studied, his quarterback was less than perfect in getting him the ball. There were some nice traits that he showed on tape and I know that then receivers coach Jimmy Robinson was very high on him. He is in the same boat as Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson if they can stay on the field, they can be productive players.