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Mailbag: Using Wilber As A Pass Rusher? What To Do If La'el Returns?

I've always been a fan of Kyle Wilber.  He's not the most talented guy on the team, but he always seems to do whatever the coaches ask of him and he has a knack for making plays.  Since he's lost his starting nod at the SAM to Damien Wilson, have the coaches considered using him as an edge rusher? 

David:They've considered that in the past. If you remember back to Week 1, when DeMarcus Lawrence was suspended and Ryan Davis wasn't ready to go, they used Wilber as a nickel rusher. The guy's versatility and willingness to adapt is what earned him a second-contract here. I think Rod Marinelli would probably rather stick with his current rotation, though. Wilber's value shows most on special teams, as he demonstrated in Minneapolis last week.

Rob:You know, that's not a bad thought, maybe in clear passing situations at least. Just remember Wilber's only about 245 pounds and there's a reason he's primarily a linebacker in this 4-3 scheme. Tyrone Crawford gives them a powerful edge setter at left defensive end, and DeMarcus Lawrence is their best pure rusher. David Irving is making plays at tackle and end. The Vikings game was a sign of progress from the defensive line, but there's no question they're looking to manufacture a more consistent pass rush.

If La'el Collins returns this week or next, what do you think his chances are of replacing Ronald Leary? Would the same professional courtesy extend to Ronald Leary similar to the Dak Prescott/Tony Romo situation?  I think Ronald Leary's experience and play makes the offensive line better when he is in. Your thoughts?

David:It's still too soon to say when Collins might return – or if he returns at all. But I would imagine the Cowboys will stick with the "hot hand," as they like to say. Leary has been fantastic this year, and Collins has been out of the lineup since September. I think ideally, they could use Collins the way they use Joe Looney – essentially as an extra tight end, in place of Geoff Swaim. Then, Collins can shift back to the starting lineup in 2017.

Rob:I agree that this would be a little like the quarterback position: it's hard to change things up right now the way the offensive line has played the last nine games with Leary at guard. That's no knock against Collins, a terrific talent and part of this line's future. But when you've got the league's leading rusher and one of the three most efficient quarterbacks in the league right now, I would keep the current line intact and welcome back Collins as key depth down the stretch this season, knowing you're one play away from putting him back in the lineup.


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