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Mailbag: How Will The Defense Look On Short Yardage Plays?
With the emphasis on speed for the defense, they are a little on the small size. How do you think they will fare on short yardage/goal line situations?
David: In this day and age, it seems like NFL teams do their best to regiment their roster to fit certain situations. For example: although he has yet to make the team, there’s nothing small about 330-pound defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton, who joined the team Tuesday – presumably as a run stuffer. Little things like that can make a world of difference. And as for the rest, I think the majority of the guys in question – DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee – have proven their weight and their worth enough to make it a non-issue.
Rowan: It’s the one area of this defense I want to see most when the pads come on. Rod Marinelli wants his defensive linemen to be able to rush, and he has four guys starting on the defensive line who may be able to do that. The question comes whether or not the interior players are fit to push back. Jason Hatcher is in a much different spot as a one-technique than a 3-4 end, but Marinelli’s ran his system long enough that I’d have to believe he’s comfortable in what he sees. It’s possible if the interior guys can get up the field, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter can meet carriers near the line of scrimmage more readily. If it doesn’t work, Sharrif Floyd’s name will come up for years to come.
What position is going to have the most competition this offseason?
David: I’ll undoubtedly sound like a broken record, but I think it’s safety. No other spot on the team is as up-for-grabs, when you consider that none of the six or seven guys going out for the job is a proven commodity. Barry Church and Matt Johnson don’t have the experience, Will Allen has experience but not much as a starter, J.J. Wilcox is a rookie. We have an idea of who’s going to start back there, but at this point no combination of players would surprise me.
Rowan: The answer is the safety spot next to Barry Church. There are a ton of competitors in Johnson, Will Allen and J.J. Wilcox who could secure the spot. But for argument’s sake, let’s look at the guard spot. The Cowboys thought they’d be in better shape this year with Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings both healthier. Only, that hasn’t exactly been the case. Bernadeau’s still recovering from offseason surgery and Livings’ knee is still bothering him. That could open the door for Ronald Leary to earn a spot as a starter.