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STEVE NACLERIO HARTSDALE, NY:I am happy with the upgrades in the secondary, but what have the Cowboys done to rectify what was, in the view of many, the biggest weakness last year - getting pressure on the quarterback?
Nick: They haven't really done anything – not major, anyway. I'm sure you don't call drafting Tyrone Crawford and Kyle Wilber the solution, and I don't think they should be called that. Free agency wasn't very strong at that position, and when it came down to the draft, they went for the best defensive player, which happened to be a cornerback. So ultimately, I think the Cowboys are hoping with fingers crossed that another year in Rob Ryan's scheme, with a full offseason, will be good enough to get that part turned around. And if it doesn't, then at least the secondary is better to make up for it.
Rob: Not much has changed from a personnel standpoint. They believe third-round pick Tyrone Crawford can have an immediate impact as a nickel rusher. Rob Ryan has talked about simplifying some things scheme-wise, which makes sense. Ultimately it comes down to players, though, and DeMarcus Ware (and to some extent, Jay Ratliff) have been the only consistent threats. The team didn't have first-round grades on some of this year's first-round rushers, which is why Anthony Spencer is back. They'd like to add players there, but you can't fix everything in one offseason, and they felt the secondary was the bigger issue. Will that help the front seven by proxy? We'll see.
CHARLIE CASE TEXARKANA, TX: Do you think Phillip Tanner will get regular carries this year?
Nick:Not sure what "regular" means, but no, I don't think he'll be a guy featured in the offense. No, I don't think he'll get even a handful of carries per game. I think Murray is the workhorse and Felix Jones will be the change-of-pace guy. I think Tanner can help his cause by improving on special teams, and if you can get yourself to the game and on the active roster, then anything can happen in relation to injuries. But I'd be surprised if he's better than Jones in training camp and warrants carries. It'd be a good problem to have if he is.
Rob: Not unless DeMarco Murray and/or Felix Jones get hurt again. Think about Tashard Choice – he never topped 100 carries in four seasons here, and his career-high 92 in 2008 came from injuries to Jones and Marion Barber. It's hard to get three running backs involved in the flow of a game.