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Mailbag: Offseason Award Winners? Impact A Veteran Might Have On LB Corps?

GRANT JACKSONPLANO, TX
If you had to give one Cowboys player an offseason award for showing tremendous effort during offseason workouts and for improving their overall game who would that be and why?

Bryan: Ryan Russell has looked like a different player at defensive end from what we saw last season. Physically he looks stronger and technique-wise he is a much better player. You don't see the mistakes, there are more positive results. Russell has put himself in a position where he could be the potential starter when the club opens the season against the New York Giants.

David:I don't know if they're going to be ready for training camp, but Lance Dunbar and Gavin Escobar deserve some recognition for their work in the spring. Dunbar tore his ACL and MCL in October, and Escobar tore his Achilles on Dec. 19 – just two weeks from the end of the season. Despite that, both players look well advanced in their rehab. Neither one participated in the competitive portions of practice, but they were able to run routes and do light amounts of work. That's seriously impressive and worth recognition, regardless of whether they're ready for the start of camp.

RYAN WEIDLICHSCIOTA, PA
I've heard a lot about Justin Durant signing. I know this organization values veteran leadership, but I think they need to see what they have in Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens and possibly Mark Nzeocha. Am I wrong to think that Durant will be now two years older on his already fragile body? Is there something not there in Wilson that they feel the need to acquire another LB?

Bryan:I don't disagree with you about playing the younger guys at all. Durant would be brought in here as an insurance policy. I don't see Durant as a progress stopper at all. He can play a couple of different spots and if these young guys don't step up – he could be that instant bridge that the coaching staff feels comfortable with. He still is a veteran that can play all three downs on defense.  

David: I think the reasoning behind signing a veteran like Durant is that he has proven he can handle a starting role in the NFL. He has played nine years in the NFL and started 92 games – which is 72 more starts than the duo of Wilson and Hitchens. I don't mind bringing a veteran presence in, but if I did so I would also be hoping that one of my youngsters could outperform him.

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