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Mailbag: Underestimating McFadden? Is Vaughan Romo's Heir Apparent?

DAN RITCHRAMSTEIN, GERMANY

I am having a lot of trouble understanding why everyone is so down on Darren McFadden. I watched him at Arkansas and he was unstoppable. Everyone says he only averaged 3.4 yards a carry last year but I think that is decent considering what he had around him. Every team keyed on him every game because they weren't afraid of anyone else beating them. Other than his injury history, is it possible everyone is underestimating him?

Bryan: I believe that you, me and McFadden are the only ones that believe in the type of season he could have. Of the running backs they currently have on the roster, he is the most complete one and that is why I see him having the most productive season.

Rob: Dan, you're right, McFadden's injury history is a factor for some of the skeptics. And a couple of the Raiders' backs had a higher rushing average last year with a smaller sample size (103 combined carries to McFadden's 155). But the Cowboys see similarities in McFadden's injury history and DeMarco Murray's prior to 2014 – mostly minor injuries – and believe he has a similar all-around skill set. That's no knock on Murray, who was remarkable last year, but there's optimism McFadden can revitalize his career at a much cheaper price with a change of scenery and a more complete offense. We're about to find out.

JIM WHATLEYHENDERSON, TX

Is Dustin Vaughan the heir apparent to Tony Romo, and if not, how long can they wait to find his replacement?

Bryan: I thought that Vaughan was going to get more of an opportunity during these OTA practices, but it didn't work out that way, which was surprising. I still believe that he is going to get a big shot in training camp and into the preseason games. The only negative talk that I have heard about him is that they would like him to become more of a leader while on the field. They need to know what they have in him sooner rather than later.

Rob: Training camp and preseason will be huge for Vaughan. The Cowboys want to see if he can take the step in his development, and that starts with taking more command of the huddle. One benefit for Vaughan is having a teammate in Romo who has been in the exact same situation – undrafted, small school, few reps. But as it stands right now, Brandon Weeden is better prepared to start a game if Romo were to miss time again.

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