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Mailbag: Most Important Injury Concern?


Who do you think will win MVP for this team this year? If Dak has a good year, that means his receivers will, too. There's Zeke. The defense has DeMarcus Lawrence, not to mention the linebackers. If they can manage to make the playoffs, it will be exciting to see who leads the team this year. – STEPHEN GRAYSON / GREENVILLE MS

Nick: I don't know how much it really matters because even when teams have good seasons, that discussion is often debated. Even back in 2016 when the Cowboys went 13-3, there was a lot of talk about Dak or Zeke getting the credit. I know Dak won Rookie of the Year but I think most people can see that Zeke is the difference-maker – he's the one teams must focus on first and foremost. And heading into the 2020 season, I don't think anything has changed. Dak might get the big contract – eventually – but Zeke is the "straw that stirs the drink" as Stephen Jones pointed out last summer. So if the Cowboys have a great season, I'm thinking it will all stem from Zeke and his presence.

David: Maybe it's obvious, but the Cowboys will go as far as Dak Prescott can take them. That's not to minimize Zeke or any other player's contributions, but that's what we've seen bear out over the last few years. Over the past five years, the NFL's best teams have typically been carried by strong quarterback play. Look at some of the Cowboys' most crucial losses last year – New Orleans, New England, Philadelphia. Those were games where Zeke was bottled up and the passing game couldn't overcome it. Quarterback is the most valuable position in the game, and the Cowboys won't meet their goals without Dak playing that way.

Which players have been rehabbing from injury/surgery this year, and how has the COVID-19 situation affected them? And who are you most interested in seeing because of this? – BILL CONWAY / PALM SPRINGS, CA

Nick: There have been about two handfuls of players rehabbing different injuries, but the guys I'm focused on are both named Connor. Before everything changed back in March, Connor Williams was making strong progress from his ACL injury. I think he will be ready to go by the start of the season and perhaps on a limited basis in training camp. Connor McGovern has also been rehabbing his injuries and needs to add some upper-body strength that should help his development as well. Both of those guys should factor into the mix at guard and center.

David: I guess if there's a silver lining, it's that the NFL has allowed guys to continue their rehabs over these past few months. Tyrone Crawford deserves a mention, because bouncing back from double hip surgery can't be easy. But I'd have to say Leighton Vander Esch. By all accounts, his neck surgery went well and he's feeling great. Hopefully that's true. If he's fully healthy, Vander Esch has All-Pro ability and is probably the second-best player on this defense. If he's not healthy – well, we saw what that looked like last season.

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