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Mailbag: Advantage To Cowboys' Schedule? Dunbar On Kickoff Returns?

In looking at the regular season schedule, I noticed the Cowboys do not travel west of Dallas. Do you think this favors Dallas in any way?

David:That's a really astute observation, but I'm not sure it plays much of a factor. One of Jason Garrett's biggest strength as a coach is his eye for logistics, and I'm confident he could plan to minimize travel arrangements in situations like that. That said, it certainly can't hurt that the vast majority of this year's roadtrips are either short or early in the day. The toughest trip of the season from a travel standpoint looks like the Monday night game in Washington on Dec. 7. The rest are fairly manageable.

Rob:According to Jason Garrett, no. He says the team has to be ready to play in the parking lot or on the moon – probably literally. I don't put much stock into traveling only east, personally. New York isn't much closer to Dallas than, say, Seattle or San Francisco. The one stretch that looks difficult is once again around Thanksgiving – not before, but after. They have three games in 12 days (at Washington, at Green Bay, Jets) and they'll probably roll in around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning after the Redskins game with the flight to Green Bay coming four days later. Rough.

Do you think Lance Dunbar's roster spot comes down to whether or not he can return kickoffs?

David:I like Dunbar's odds to earn a roster spot for that very reason – and not just kickoff returns. Aside from his abilities as a receiver, I think Dunbar can contribute to a variety of the special teams, which is something Ryan Williams hasn't proven he can do. But to answer your question more directly, I would consider Dunbar as one of the favorites to earn the kickoff return job.

Rob:It will come down Dunbar's ability on special teams in general. The problem with kickoff returns as your primary function is the rule change has minimized it so much. Punt returns are much more valuable now, and that's where the Cowboys really need to replace Dwayne Harris. Dunbar has some all-around offensive skills that only Darren McFadden can probably match, and that's why he's here. But with a $1.54 million salary, he'll need to show plenty of versatility.

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