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Mailbag: Monitoring Two Key Position Battles?

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Why is it that Cooper Rush seems to be almost an afterthought? Anytime he comes into a preseason game he is always quick to get the ball out to his receivers and shows with very little playing time that he can play fast. In the Arizona game alone, his receivers had three wide-open drops and his stats suffered. – STEVE HUDDLESTON / PITTSFIELD, IL

Rob: I agree with you about Rush's poise. It's obvious that he has a comfort level with Kellen Moore's system. The three backups have different strengths, in my opinion. Ben DiNucci probably has better arm talent and Rush has better command of the offense. Garrett Gilbert, particularly when he has time to set his feet, can make some impressive throws and he's also got experience running an NFL offense. That combination is why he's the primary backup at this point.

David: I worry about the arm talent, to be blunt about it. It's not always an issue, but it does seem like some of Rush's throws don't get there as quickly as you'd prefer, particularly when he has to throw outside the numbers. As for the reason he feels like an afterthought, I think it's fairly simple. The coaching staff clearly thinks Gilbert has a leg up, because he has exclusively received the first-team reps since Dak Prescott stopped throwing. And Ben DiNucci has the benefit of having been drafted by this coaching staff. Maybe it's not 100% fair, but those two things are the reason why I think Rush has been overlooked by most.

I have been one of Terence Steele's harshest critics, but he seemed to have a respectable game against Arizona, especially at left tackle with Connor McGovern at left guard. Do you agree or have my eyes deceived me? Can Steele make it as swing tackle this season? – BILL CONWAY / PALM SPRINGS, CA

Rob: Steele hasn't had as many left tackle reps as Ty Nsekhe in preseason – not with the first group, at least. But you can argue he's had the best camp of the candidates for the swing tackle spot (Nsekhe, Brandon Knight, and rookie Josh Ball, who's still out with an ankle injury). The Cowboys obviously see potential in Steele, or he wouldn't have played as much as he did last year, even despite all the injuries around him. Imight say Nsekhe is the top candidate based on experience, but we'll see.

David: He's not perfect, but from my vantage point it seems like he's been more solid than not. My eyebrows perked up when the coaching staff started working him at left tackle, because obviously the job of a swing tackle is to play both the left and right side. I'm not ready to call a winner just yet, but I'm starting to think he might be good enough to steal the job from Ty Nsekhe – pardon the pun. He was able to beat out Cameron Erving for the starting job last season, so it wouldn't be the first time he beat out a veteran for a key job. It'll be something to watch these next two weeks.

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