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Mailbag: Help Coming Soon On Defense?


I know we are dealing with injuries at linebacker and defensive back, but how confident are you thought that return of any of those starters throughout the season will actually give a meaningful boost to improve this defense?ADAM SMITH / ROCKFORD, IL

Rob: The eventual return of two starting linebackers and two starting cornerbacks? Yeah, I'll take that all day. Sounds like Anthony Brown is close to returning from his rib injury. Mike McCarthy indicated that Leighton Vander Esch is making progress from his collarbone procedure, though he's probably not ready just yet. At some point the Cowboys should get Chidobe Awuzie and Sean Lee back, too. Right now there's a lot on the plate of Trevon Diggs and Jaylon Smith, in particular, and getting closer to full strength at both positions would help them out.

David: For me, it's all about expectation. Will getting Anthony Brown, Chido Awuzie and Leighton Vander Esch back from injury turn this into a top 10 defense? Absolutely not. But I don't think there was ever any hope for this being a top 10 defense. I do think it's possible that those guys could help this group be passable. With the way this offense is humming, I only need the defense to be mediocre – and right now they're way worse than that. So yes, I do think those guys could make a difference.

Other than a passing game that has shown consecutive increases in numbers, what area of play did you see noteworthy improvement in the game with the Browns? What areas of improvement do you expect to see against the Giants?THOMAS NARRO / YOKOHAMA, JAPAN

Rob: It's certainly not perfect, but I've been impressed with how the offensive line has battled through all of these injuries. Dak Prescott has thrown the ball 115 times in the last two games. That's incredible, and overall he's been able to get the ball downfield, as you mentioned. They need to find their rhythm in the run game, but it's been a pretty small sample size due to playing from behind. I don't have a lot of concern about getting that part on track, provided they can eliminate turnovers.

David: I'm not sure there was an area of noticeable improvement. Even as fun as the offense was at times, it's hard to ignore another game with three turnovers. That can't happen – especially not with the way this defense is playing. If nothing else, I'd love to see the offense finally play a clean game this week. I think that could do wonders, even if the defense continues to struggle a bit.


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