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Mailbag: Durant's Role On Defense? Elliott Handling Star Player Status?


With Justin Durant now back, who do you think the best strong side linebacker on the team is today (outside of Damien Wilson)?

David: If we are assuming that Damien Wilson is unavailable, then I'd probably have to say Durant. You could maybe mention Mark Nzeocha, as well, but he is still recovering from a knee scope. I don't think SAM is Durant's ideal position, but I think I'd choose him over Kyle Wilber. It's also possible to move Anthony Hitchens to the strong side, but I'd advise against it. I want Hitchens working in the middle in case Jaylon Smith isn't 100 percent ready to go.

Rob:Wilson is the starting strong-side linebacker if he's healthy and available to play. Remember that when Durant re-signed last July, he needed a few weeks in preseason to get his conditioning back. With that in mind, I believe Wilber is the SAM linebacker next in line after Wilson right now.

With the latest issues concerning Zeke, what's it going to take for this guy to realize that his actions may lead to suspension, which will damage the chances of repeating the year of 2016? Like the saying goes: where there's smoke, there's fire. Hopefully the guy grows up sooner than later.

David: We can talk about it all we want, but the only guy who genuinely knows the answer to that question is Zeke Elliott. Strictly speaking, he hasn't done anything wrong in the eyes of the law – but this year sure has provided some lessons about the value of perception and the court of public opinion. He's not the first young player who's had to cope with the spotlight. Dez Bryant had some similar problems in the early going of his career. Hopefully this is all a valuable learning experience, but there's no way to know that for sure.

Rob:I think Jerry Jones summed up those questions well: Elliott is essentially a rock star in the sports world after just one season. He turns 22 on Saturday. He's a young guy who still needs to fully grasp the position he's in and the attention that comes with being a visible public figure. The entire team just needs to get back to football, back to the structure of training camp. If they're going to take another step, he's got to be a major part of it. In my opinion, he was their MVP last year.

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