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Mailbag: Changing Expectations On Defense?

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I know, its preseason and it's very limited exposure, however, I am curious if any of you all are getting a little more excited about what this unit might become? – BRYAN SCOTT / RED LION, PA

David: My standard rule is not to let myself get too excited about what I see at this time of year, because it's not always a reflection on the regular season. But it's hard not to notice that this coaching staff has an exciting plan for Micah Parsons – and Parsons is executing that plan to perfection so far. Seeing the number of things he can do, and the way he helps make the guys around him better, it's hard not to feel encouraged. Add in the fact that we still haven't seen a ton from guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, and yes I think it's fair to say my expectations are a little higher than they were in July.

Rob: We didn't have preseason games last year to help evaluate, but yes, it does look like a more cohesive unit. I realize the Texans aren't expected to be a top offense this season, but anytime you hold a team to 0-of-10 on third down, that's impressive. The Cowboys wanted to get faster and more physical this offseason, and I think we're seeing that. Micah Parsons is a great example of what they're looking for. They still have to figure out the defensive tackle rotation while Neville Gallimore is out, but Osa Odighizuwa has had a really nice camp and could be an impact player based on what we've seen. Still very early but encouraging.

Last year, Ben DiNucci was put in a game before Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush, and he did horrible. We've seen the same thing through three preseason games this year. I really believe if Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells were the coaches, he would've been fired that week. What are they seeing that I'm not? – TONY BARRENADA / EL PASO, TX

David: Ben DiNucci has not had a good preseason, but I don't remotely understand why everyone gets so worked up about the fourth quarterback on the roster. He is not part of the competition for the backup job, that much is obvious. I feel confident saying he's not going to be on the initial 53-man roster. So what's with all the uproar? Teams bring young players to training camp to develop. Teams try to maximize and protect the investments they make in their draft picks. This isn't new, it just so happens that DiNucci plays the most visible position on the team. He hasn't been good enough. That is very obvious. But the amount of hate the guy get feels like a bit much when you consider he is dead-last on the depth chart.

Rob: Let's say it once again: I think you have to view his situation differently from Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush. The Cowboys just want to see if he can show enough signs of development as an NFL quarterback, not so much the No. 2 quarterback battle. Obviously the three interceptions Saturday were not a step in that direction. But he's got some nice mobility for the position, as we saw in the game. I still could envision him back on the practice squad if not the 53 after final roster decisions are made. We'll see.

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