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Mailbag: Is Jaylon Smith Ready For Primetime? Projecting The Run Defense?

Is Jaylon Smith really ready for primetime? His game action looked to me like someone afraid to move any way but straight downhill and lev to some missed tackles. Where is he on the road back and is it too soon for real games?

Bryan: I understand your concerns with Smith, but at this point with the injury to Hitchens they're forced to go with the best option. From what I've observed, I've seen more good than bad from Smith. I don't believe his issues will be physical as much as mental. Where he's made his mistakes is being too aggressive. If he's able to play with a calmness, I believe he'll be fine. 

David:I do wonder how he's going to handle this jump, because to this point he has only played a dozen or so snaps in his preseason appearances. I think the Cowboys are going to stick to the plan and not overwork him. He has Justin Durant to help him carry this load, so there's no need to throw him out there for 50 or 60 plays. When he has been on the field, it's been far more good than bad in my opinion. So I feel optimistic that he can continue to work in the right direction.

During the offseason everyone has talked about the new secondary and lack of a pass rush. What I haven't really heard addressed is; how do you think their run defense is going to be? Who do you project to be on the defensive line for running downs?

Bryan: With Tyrone Crawford working his way back in the lineup, I could see him starting out as the backup to DeMarcus Lawrence on that left side. That means Benson Mayowa will likely start on the right side. Inside will be Stephen Paea and Maliek Collins. They will rotate their guys with Brian Price, Taco Charlton and Charles Tapper getting work as well. 

David:Well, for this game at least, we know that Ezekiel Elliott will be on hand to help keep the Giants off the field. That was such a big part of the recipe for success last year, I think it can only help the Dallas defense. Tyrone Crawford returning should help the run defense, but I do wonder about the linebackers. Sean Lee is obviously great, but how well can Justin Durant and Jaylon Smith replicate Anthony Hitchens' penchant for cleaning things up? I'd wager that Jeff Heath needs to bring his A-game in run support, as well.


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