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Mailbag: How Much Is Durant Missed?; Update On Lee & Claiborne's Injuries?

How much does this defense miss Justin Durant?

Bryan: What they miss is his nose for the ball and his ability to finish plays. I have to admit that I really wasn't sure before the season how he would have fit in with the current group of linebackers, but since the first day of camp he was outstanding -- not only the way he played the run but defends the pass. They miss him badly.

David:There's no doubt they'd prefer him to be out there. The best games this defense has played this season came when both Justin Durant and Rolando McClain were healthy and playing at a high level. He was good enough in the first half of the season that it gives cause for the Cowboys to consider re-signing him -- which I didn't think would be the case before the season started. That said, I've been impressed with how well Anthony Hitchens has acclimated with Durant out.

With all the talk of how the Cowboys are seemingly staying healthy for the most part, I wanted to know how Sean Lee and Morris Claiborne's injuries are healing up. And what do you think Claiborne's future holds with the Cowboys?

Bryan: I have a better feeling about Lee's injury because I have more interaction with him and he feels like he is better than ever. To be honest I never had a doubt that he would be ready to go once we get into the plans for the 2015 season. I see Claiborne in the weight room all the time working with the staff, so that is a positive sign. As far as his future? He will have one more season to show what he can do and maybe extend his time with the club. If things don't work out he will have to see if he can find a career with another club.

David: I actually saw Lee doing some work in the weight room on Tuesday. He's still around the team on a regular basis, and he appears to be coming along nicely. Knowing him, I'm sure he'll be ready to go when 2015 preparations start ramping up. Claiborne came into the locker room about a week ago. This is a serious injury, as Ryan Williams can tell you -- he tore his patellar tendon in 2011. Claiborne said he's rehabbing the injury, but it's still far too early for him to even be thinking about football. He's just trying to get back to a place where he can walk and run. With that in mind, it'll be interesting to see where he is when spring rolls around next year. This injury requires a longer timetable than Lee's torn ACL, so we'll see. It seems incredibly unlikely the Cowboys will pick up the fifth-year option on Claiborne's contract, so 2015 will be huge for him. But we knew that before he suffered the injury.

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