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Mailbag: What Does It Mean For LBs If McClain Shines?
Am I the only person on this planet who isn't subscribing to the notion that our defense is doomed to be terrible again this year? Finding Sean Lee's replacement is the only glaring hole, in my opinion. And call me crazy, but despite the common perception, I think our defensive line just might be the star of the show.
David: Ok, you’re crazy. I’m kidding, of course, but I don’t see many obvious reasons to feel overly optimistic about this defense ahead of training camp. The defensive line is intriguing because there are so many new faces, but in this league, I need to see it to believe it. I will say this: one good reason to have hope is because it can’t be much worse than it was last year – Jerry Jones said that himself a few weeks ago. That said, I’m not expecting a major defensive renaissance, but perhaps mild improvement.
Rowan:You mentioned finding Sean Lee’s replacement as the only glaring hole. I think the issue is no one knows where the glaring hole will be. Every single defender’s either unproven over a long period of time or coming off a major injury with the exception of Barry Church, though he’s still somewhat new to the league and missed a year recently with his Achilles. It’s just difficult to find areas of the defense right now that got answered or improved dramatically. I’m going to stop short of saying thedefensive line will be the star of the show, but the hope in that area is that there’s a ton of new faces – many of them young – and maybe one or two of them end up with career years. That would start the process of getting the defense back where it needs to be.
NORTH VERNON, IN
If Rolando McClain starts and can play up to his "potential" what do you think that means for Sean Lee, and for the development of some of the other linebackers?
David: It doesn’t mean much for Lee, because 1. the Cowboys are invested pretty heavily in him and 2. you aren’t going to see him on a football field until next spring or summer, anyway. If McClain turns out to be a beast, I imagine they’d find a way to get him and Lee on the field together when that becomes possible. As for the other linebackers, that’s an intriguing point. If McClain really steps up in training camp, it’s bound to limit the number of snaps available to the guys behind him – most likely Anthony Hitchens. I’m sure the Cowboys will gladly take that if it means McClain is contributing like the top 10 pick he was.
Rowan: It wouldn’t really mean anything. I think if Lee’s healthy, he’ll come back and go right back to the middle linebacker spot. That’s partly because the Cowboys already extended him and also partly because they have full trust in Lee in the middle. I thought this might be the year they tried him as an outside linebacker and shifted DeVonte Holloman permanently inside, but that wasn’t at all the plan. If McClain ends up shining, that’s great for the Cowboys. But if he’s that good and they want to keep him, I think he’s capable of shifting to an outside spot when Lee returns. The good part about these linebackers is they tend to learn multiple spots in these sorts of events.