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Mailbag: Sean Lee’s Linebacker Role; More

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I realize the Cowboys are loaded at linebacker. But how can you keep Sean Lee on the sidelines after what he showed against the Giants. Nobody on that team diagnoses plays and makes sure tackles as reliably as Lee. He's got to play, doesn't he? - PETER MALLIRIS / EUGENE, OR

Bryan: How do you keep Leighton Vander Esch on the sideline either? No question Lee played well and continued to do so. They’re going to need all of these linebackers to continue to step up, including Joe Thomas. Lee will get his opportunities, but Vander Esch is the future of this group and he needs those snaps too.

Rob: Lee was playing a little more before Vander Esch’s injury, both in base and sub-packages. But he has embraced the strong-side linebacker spot, even though it means less snaps because the defense is in nickel a lot. Once everyone’s healthy, I expect those roles to continue. Vander Esch is playing well and did a nice job against Philly before the neck stinger.

Seems like Brett Maher was kicking it short all game against the Giants. Was that a part of the game plan or is he injured? It seemed like every kickoff they were starting at the 45- or 50-yard line. It didn't matter which end he kicked from. Was it windy? - ADRIANO / CA

Bryan: As far as I know, Maher wasn’t injured or it was too windy. I wrote about it after the game that the overall coverage was poor on those two kicks. They made adjustments and were better after that. There are more outdoor games ahead, so they will need to continue to improve so those types of big returns don’t happen again.

Rob: There’s no injury. Head coach Jason Garrett said he thought the weather conditions affected the distance of those kickoffs and the coverage wasn’t good enough on the big returns. Maher kicked well overall.

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