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Mailbag: Dunbar's Role; Short Week For Thursday Games A Concern?

General question about Thursday games. A lot is being made about the rest that teams playing on Thursday get before their next game. But no one mentions the short week prior to the Thursday game that puts a team at a disadvantage. I always hear that the Cowboys have an advantage on their Thanksgiving game because they get a long break after, but no one mentions the short week prior. Same for all the NFL Thursday games now. Why isn't that brought up?

Rob: You'll hear plenty of former Cowboys players mention your exact point – the short prep and recovery time before Thanksgiving is a disadvantage in itself. The Cowboys would love to get a home game the Sunday before Thanksgiving every year so there's no travel involved. At least this year they won't be rolling in from Miami at 5 a.m. that Monday. But I do think the short week for each Thursday Night Football matchup has been raised as a concern for player wellness in the past. It's not overlooked.

David: I'd argue that it's brought up all the time – like last season, for instance, when the Cowboys played a night game in New York before traveling home for Thanksgiving. People were apoplectic that Tony Romo would only have about three days of rest to prepare, and Dallas played arguably its worst game of the season in the loss to Philly. Fortunately for the Cowboys, the game before Thanksgiving this year is a 1 p.m. game in Miami, which shouldn't be too strenuous. The fact that the NFL makes every team play on a short week of rest while preaching player safety is one of the most hypocritical things about this league, in my opinion. But it's just a reality that all 32 clubs have to deal with.

I had the privilege of speaking to Gil Brandt on XM Radio last year, and he felt very strongly in favor of using Dunbar more. Clearly that didn't happen. What's the likelihood we see this kid unleashed this year?

Rob: The coaching staff appreciates Dunbar's skill set. Remember, one reason he wasn't very involved in the offense last year was DeMarco Murray rarely came off the field. It's hard to predict Dunbar's role without knowing exactly who's in front of him on the depth chart, but the $1.54 million restricted tender is pricey for a potential third running back. Keep that in mind this summer, because Darren McFadden can do some of what Dunbar does for less money.

David: We billed 2014 as Dunbar's breakout year all through last summer, and it didn't really pan out. Because of that, I'm pretty wary about putting big predictions on him. But the Cowboys just re-signed him to a rather hefty tender coming off a season that wasn't all that impressive. That leads me to believe they have plans for him. Scott Linehan in particular, I think, is intrigued by what he can accomplish with Dunbar. A lot is probably going to depend on whether the Cowboys address the running back position in the draft. If nothing else, I think he's got something to offer as a receiver.


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