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Mailbag: Special Teams Expectations; Would A Dez Deal Benefit Team Chemistry?

JIM WHATLEYHENDERSON, TX

A lot has been said as to whether the newly drafted and unsigned players can play special teams. Do coaches tell them whether or not they make the team is determined by whether they will make tackles on kickoffs and punts and find someone to block on returns, and if they are not willing to do those things they go home? Are they very clear with those things?

David: Absolutely. Every year we talk to rookies, and every year they're abundantly clear about what the coaches expect from them. Even late-round draft picks are told that they'll need to impress on special teams to improve their odds of making the team. With only 53 final roster spots, special teams are the life blood for the non-starters.

Rob: Think about it this way: How many Cowboys rookies this year have a strong chance to play consistently on offense or defense? Three: Byron Jones, Randy Gregory and La'el Collins. Last year, only three: Zack Martin, Anthony Hitchens and DeMarcus Lawrence when he returned from injury. Everyone else has to serve a role on special teams in order to make the roster, period, much less the game day roster.  

MATT KRUSEDALLAS, TX

Speaking hypothetically, if Dez Bryant isn't signed long term by July 15, would it be a media distraction hovering around the team in training camp and potentially into the season? We have such great chemistry as a team. Big Cowboys fan here hoping it gets done!

David: I guess it depends what you mean by "distraction." Do I think it will be incessantly talked about in the media? Absolutely. Do I think it will affect the locker room? Not really. Dez, DeMarco Murray and Jason Garrett all fielded plenty of contract questions last season, and it didn't prove too distracting. I guess it could hurt if Dez decided to sit out of games, but I don't believe for a second that'll happen. When the season rolls around, I think Dez is too invested in winning to be a distraction – deal or no deal.

Rob: If July 15 were to pass without a deal, I have no doubt Dez would be Dez – a superior competitor and teammate. But despite Jason Garrett's gift for eliminating distractions, that storyline would dominate the opening training camp press conference and at least the start of camp ("Is Dez here?" "Is Dez happy?" etc.). I believe that's a situation the two sides would prefer to avoid. There are too many positive vibes around this team, too many goals to reach, and everyone wants a deal that makes sense for both sides. Think back to the years before rookie contracts were slotted – the Joneses were always comfortable working with deadlines and getting guys signed right before camp. This is a much more complex negotiation, and it will probably take mutual concessions. But the fact that both sides resumed talks last week was a good sign, and it should lend optimism that an agreement can be reached within the next two weeks.

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