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Cowboys Mailbag: January 17, 2012

/ Editor's Note: Each weekday,'s writers will field two questions from the fans. Click here to email your question now. **

Brandon Henke - Atlanta, GA: After the latest reported off-the-field incident, I'm wondering how much patience will the Cowboys have before they give up on Dez Bryant?

Rob: Well, the Cowboys need to (and will) get to the bottom of it first. My opinion: the reports Monday were fuzzy at best, and without any kind of police report it's a bit of a non-story right now. That being said, Dez has to be aware that he's a lightning rod for scrutiny. That doesn't mean be a hermit; that means watch what situations he puts himself in. Everything he has been involved in – the mall incident, the jewelry debts – has been relatively minor, but it does have to concern the team some. He's such a talent, though, and he's a well-meaning person. I don't see them giving up on him. They don't have anybody to replace him anyway.

Josh: Probably still a lot of patience. The book was out on Dez Bryant when he was drafted, so none of these incidents that have come up should be any surprise. When they drafted him, they had to be prepared to live with some of the immaturity issues. They've got people in place to try to help him come of age, and their work just continues.

Fred London - Knoxville, TN: I believe a true nose tackle is already on the roster. Josh Brent has shown me enough that he could be the answer, and finally, mercifully, Jay Ratliff could be switched out to defensive end. What say you?

Rob: Ryan did move him Ratliff around some. Let's not forget that. But he does need help up front, there's no doubt. Your question brings up something I noticed over the weekend: don't tell me 3-4 defensive ends can't pressure the quarterback. Houston's J.J. Watt, whom the Cowboys really liked, and San Francisco's Justin Smith were all over the field.

Josh: I will say it doesn't do a lot for Ratliff's career or the Cowboys if he's beaten down at the end of the season from having to play almost every snap at nose tackle. If Brent or someone else was good enough to spell him more often, if not kick him outside, then that would definitely be a plus. Brent has been impressive at times, but I can't say I've got a real firm grasp, one way or the other, on how good he would be as a starter. That's a tough position to gauge until you've seen them do it.

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