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Mailbag: Managing Elliott During Preseason?

Ezekiel Elliott

Would I be wrong to say the Cowboys will be fine if Zeke doesn't get more than four carries in preseason? Also, I would rest Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and barely see Travis Frederick, Sean Lee, and DeMarcus Lawrence. Do we need to risk these players who can get work in practice and be ready for the season? - DOUG HUMPHRIES / ORANGE, TX

David: You're preaching to the choir, Doug. If you're an experienced All-Pro player, I don't want to see you in the preseason. Zeke, D-Law, Sean Lee — take a seat until September, please. I will make an exception for the offensive line for two reasons. Firstly, Travis Frederick needs game reps to help make up for a lost season. On top of that, Dak Prescott needs reps, and I don't love the idea of sending him out there without his first-team O-Line. For the most part, though, I agree with you 100 percent.

Rob: If memory serves, Elliott didn't get a single carry in four preseason games last year. He and Dak Prescott sat out the traditional 'dress rehearsal' game because multiple offensive linemen were unable to play. This year, I think you'd like offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to get some calls in with the starters. But if the offense has a few key injuries, history shows the Cowboys will rest others, too. It's highly unlikely you'll see DeMarcus Lawrence on the field before the regular season, by the way. Still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Every offseason we expect our younger players to improve season to season, but that's not always the case, If you had to pick a position group on this roster that could take a step back in 2019, which position group would you pick and why? - CHANCE ALEXANDER

David: I don't mean to sound like I'm "hating" on Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, because I think they're both exceptional players. But they're both so young, and they still have a lot to learn. I don't necessarily think they're going to take a step back, but there's going to be a lot of expectation on both of them to play like All-Pros, all the time. Hopefully they're up to that level of pressure.

Rob: Man, that's tough. Because so many starters have three or less seasons in the league, you really expect them all to take a step forward. If there's a concern, maybe it's cornerback simply due to health. Byron Jones is coming off hip surgery and the team hopes he'll be ready for Week 1. Chidobe Awuzie has the talent for a breakout year, but injuries limited him at times in his first two seasons. The Cowboys need both healthy and at their best.

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