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Mailbag: Detailing Week 1 Starters & Backups At DT

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DT is one of the deepest positions on the roster in terms of guys with serious chances at roster spots. Who would you say starts, who are the backups, and who's on the outside looking in? — MITCH GRAHAM / ALBUQUERQUE, NM

David: As long as he stays healthy, I think Neville Gallimore is your starting three-technique. It's hard to ignore the amount of work that Carlos Watkins has gotten out here, but I'm not ready to write off Brent Urban as a possible starter yet. Behind them, I've been impressed by Quinton Bohanna, and Osa Odighizuwa. Everyone seems to be writing off Trysten Hill, but I'm not ready to yet. I wonder if perhaps they might try to stash him on injured reserve or PUP when the season starts.

Nick: I agree that there are a lot of guys in the mix, but I'm not going to call it a deep position. Every spot on the team has a lot of players because it's a 90-man roster. But to me, if you don't even know who the starters are going to be, then it's still an iffy spot to me. Now, all that being said, there are some positive things we are seeing. So to answer the question, I would see a rotation of Urban, Gallimore, Odighizuwa and either Watkins or Bohanna. One of those guys might be inactive for Week 1, but don't forget the heat factor in Tampa Bay. Some coaches like to go deeper on the D-line early in the season for that.

Would they purposely keep a vaccinated player over an unvaccinated player in the last 4-5 final roster spots to get over the 85% vaccination minimum? Or possibly have an effect on what positions they would go heavy or light on? — DARRYL CROSS / LARGO, FL

David: It's a fascinating question, and it's something you're not likely to get a straight answer on because of the touchy and private nature of the subject matter. But when you consider the steps the NFL has taken to make life easier for vaccinated players – and the challenges that come with being unvaccinated, I don't think you can rule this out. Obviously, you're not going to see this happen to a star player. But if the front office has a choice between two guys on the bottom of the depth chart, you could see it happen.

Nick: That's one of those things that doesn't get talked about, but it has to be a factor, and I don't have a problem if it is. Coaches say all the time that the best type of "ability" is "availability." If that's the case, then you have to make sure you have guys on the team that are going to be available. If there's a huge talent difference, then of course, you're going to keep the better players. But I would be surprised if the vaccine doesn't factor into some decision making. And personally, it would factor into my practice squad because those guys are still in the team meetings and around the rest of the team.

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