NIAGARA FALLS, ON
I keep telling my friends Dez Bryant will have better numbers then Calvin Johnson this year. Is it out of the realm to think so?
Nick: Not to pick apart the question, but it depends on what numbers you're talking about, and for what season. Last year, Calvin Johnson had 122 catches. No, Dez won't have that. Calvin had 1,964 yards. Again, no he won't have that. Calvin had five touchdowns. And no, Dez won't have that – he'll have more. Also, Calvin's unbelievable season led the Lions to a 4-12 record. Honestly, do you want Dez to have that many yards? I mean, the goal for the Lions last year was to get the ball to Calvin Johnson from start to finish because they had no other choice. I think I'd rather see the Cowboys have that goal for three quarters and then pound Murray in the fourth. So no, I don't think Dez will have those numbers and if he does, it probably isn't a good thing. Let's not forget, Miles Austin and Jason Witten had some nice stats last year as well.
Rowan: It's not out of the realm of possibility, and it may come down to health and the team's record for both players. Let's not belittle the kind of talent Calvin Johnson is. As amazing as Dez Bryant was last season, apart from touchdown receptions, his numbers aren't close to Johnson's the last two years – but neither are his targets. Matthew Stafford led all quarterbacks in the NFL by more than 50 attempts last season, mostly because the Lions aired it out to try to outscore opponents or come from behind in a rough year in Detroit. If the Cowboys can figure out their rushing attack, then Tony Romo won't need to finish in the top three in attempts the way he did last year. That could mean fewer targets for everyone, including Bryant. If both teams threw the same amount, then it would certainly be possible. But I don't see that happening.
EL PASO, TX
What are the chances Caleb McSurdy makes the team as a backup linebacker, special teams player and a situational use fullback? Lots of versatility there.
Nick: That's a good question. Seems like you have a good grasp on how a player like that makes the team. You're exactly right – if he can prove he can help out in that many ways, then he's got a good shot of sticking around. First and foremost, he's got to be able to play the position. The best middle linebacker will probably win out because if Sean Lee goes down, you need someone to fill in. Honestly, Bruce Carter would probably do it, but still having McSurdy in there as a day-to-day backup will be valuable, too. If I had to pick right now, I'd say he makes it.
Rowan: His chances are all right. McSurdy did some goal line work at fullback during practices this year, but I'd be surprised to see him actually out there lining up behind Romo when the season began. His real value still comes on special teams and as a backup linebacker, and the Cowboys kept him after a season-ending injury last year because they feel like he could provide value in those areas. He looks bigger than he did last season, which is a good thing, and his bulked up frame should help him.