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Mailbag: Forgotten About Defenders?


Who on the defensive side of the ball will have a great year that we are not expecting as of today? AARON PADILLA

Nick: I think a candidate for this would be Darian Thompson. Remember, you said "great," so that's hard to figure out an under-the-radar player who will have a great year. But I think Thompson could be the guy. Don't forget this coaching staff actually re-signed him in the offseason. So he's not technically just a holdover from the last staff. He's a guy this team wanted, they signed him and he's done well enough in camp to win the job. He's a versatile player who can tackle and has coverage skills. I think he might be a guy that surprises a lot of people.

David: Hopefully I'm not cheating, but I think people are forgetting about Everson Griffen a little bit. Obviously, Griffen is a four-time Pro Bowler. But it seems like people are putting all the focus on DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith. That's understandable, considering how good they were in camp. But Griffen can do a little bit of everything. I'm particularly interested to see if he might kick inside at all in pass rush situations.

What's the percentage you put on CeeDee Lamb actually getting to return some punts? ISMAEL ESPUDO

Nick: I will say it's 90 percent that he returns punts, but I would say he'll only probably get about 50 percent of them at best. Well, he field a few this year? Yes, but don't expect him to get all of them. The depth chart says Tony Pollard, and that's not a terrible thing to have the ball in his hands in the open field. I would imagine Cedrick Wilson might get some if he's active. But if Lamb is one of three receivers and is technically not even the starter, then yes I would imagine he gets a few punt returns, too.

David: My guess is that Lamb gets a chance to return when the opponent is backed up inside its own red zone, or in an end-of-half scenario. I doubt the Cowboys want him to be their primary return guy, but I absolutely think he'll get 10-15 cracks at it this season.

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