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Mailbag: How Does Lack Of Practice Time Figure?

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If Travis Frederick made a decision similar to Jason Witten and decided to return to football one year after retiring, would the Cowboys have any rights to him? Or would he be a free agent and able to play wherever he wished? As good a player as he was, no doubt he would have some suitors.– PETER MALLARIS / EUGENE, OR

Jonny: Dallas recently placed Travis Frederick on the reserve/retired list. From what I understand, that means they retain his rights for the next two seasons. So if he were to come out of retirement it would be to play for the Cowboys. I think the technicalities are probably moot, however. Frederick seems perfectly content stepping away from the game, and I don't see him getting lured back in. And if he did feel the urge to return to the NFL, I think there's only one team he'd be interested in playing for, anyway.

David: Think of it like a pause button. Travis Frederick could decide to return to the NFL in 10 years, and the Cowboys would still control his rights for however many years were left on his deal. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Travis doesn't strike me as the type of dude to change his mind easily. They might control his rights, but I'm not expecting him to play NFL football again.

In your opinion, will the lack of minicamps and all that is being prohibited by COVID-19 rules be concerning by adding more risk of injury? Or maybe bodies will be a little fresher due to smaller amount of contact before a season?– JIM HOLLOWAY / PEORIA, AZ

Jonny: Well, I have no medical training, so I can only speculate like you. I think it could certainly go both ways. Less time on the field can mean less opportunity for injury. But ultimately, it's going to be about the specific conditioning that's largely intended to prevent injuries. Which players have had the opportunities and discipline to take care of and prepare their bodies for the NFL season? For some, the routine of mini-camp and getting together with trainers or teammates always made that preparation natural in their typical offseason. If the shakeup allowed them to be a little more lax with their personal conditioning, then it would increase the chances of minor or major injuries happening once the season kicks off in full.

David: I've got to admit, I'm a little worried about the lack of on-field time. I know these guys are professionals, but thanks to COVID-19, none of them will have practiced anything resembling real football since last year – and that's not an exaggeration. The coaching staff and the medical team are going to need to keep an eye out for soft tissue injuries and the like. I'm fascinated to see if the lack of practice time has an impact on injuries around the league.

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