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Mailbag: Darkhorse To Handle Return Duties?


With 20 UDFAs, is there anyone they could use as kick and punt returners? Or will they be looking for roster cuts from other teams? — ROGER DICKSON / SALEM, VA

Rob: I would look at the draft class or the returning veterans first because we're talking about a consistent role on the game-day roster, not just a spot on the 53. Jalen Tolbert could be a possibility on punt returns. He told me he got a chance to field punts against Georgia Southern last year, but overall the coaching staff preferred not to use him there. (He was the unquestioned top player on the team, after all.) Tony Pollard should probably be in the conversation for kick returns again, assuming his role on offense remains more or less the same. Maybe Rico Dowdle, too.

David: If we're going to assume the coaching staff still intends to keep a lid on Tony Pollard's offensive snap count, I'd love to see him have a chance to work at punt returner during training camp. He can make plays with the ball in his hands, and fielding punts would give him 4-6 more touches per game. We already know that consistently finding Pollard touches has been a problem for this coaching staff, so maybe that could help. I also agree with Rob that Rico Dowdle has a great shot to be a kick returner. He showed potential with the limited opportunities he got as a rookie.

Simi Fehoko seems like a good replacement for Cedrick Wilson. What are his pros/cons? He looked good last year during the preseason games. Does he have a legit shot at WR3 or WR4 or is it safe to assume Tolbert is going to get every chance to LOSE the WR3/WR4 spot? — COLLIN CLARK / PLANO, TX

Rob: I think for Simi, it's simply gaining more experience in all aspects of the receiver position. If you remember, he didn't play a ton of games in college (16) and admittedly was more of a deep-threat guy in Stanford's style of offense. He's got good size and speed for this level, though. The Cowboys are definitely hopeful Tolbert can step in and help right away as a third-round pick, much like Michael Gallup did as a rookie. It's quite possible he's one of the top three receivers on the depth chart when Week 1 rolls around.

David: Typically, you're going to give a Top 100 pick every opportunity to show what he can do. The Cowboys also have a specific plan in mind for James Washington, and they're a lot higher on that signing than most outsiders. My guess is that those two will handle the WR 3-4 roles, while Noah Brown and Simi are the favorites to round out the depth chart. Of course, Simi does have one big advantage working for him in his insane athleticism for a guy his size. If he can channel that talent a little more consistently than he did as a rookie, I absolutely think he can carve out a role for himself.

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