With DeMarcus Lawrence's foot injury sidelining him for at least eight weeks, how huge of a setback is it, and who's the "next man up"?
Rowan: It's huge. This is the time for rookies to get adjusted to playing at the enhanced speed against bigger players on a regular basis. It's when they get their bodies ready for a level of football they've never seen. Lawrence has only gone through a week of football at camp, so who knows when he's healthy again how long it'll take after that for him to be ready to be a difference-maker. As for who steps up, the Cowboys really need Jeremy Mincey to be a good edge rusher. He's been taking the majority of first team reps against Tyron Smith as is. I'm also interested to see if Martez Wilson can take advantage of more reps.
David: There's no denying it's a pretty big setback. The hope was Lawrence would be a big part of this rotation – if not an outright starter – and now he's gone for what looks like the first month of the season or more. We've talked a lot about Tyrone Crawford shifting between defensive end and defensive tackle, but my guess is he'll need to focus a lot more on rushing from the outside going forward. It could be a huge boost if Jeremy Mincey can up his game a notch or two from where he's been in recent seasons.
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Good call or bad call to come out and say they're not re-signing DeMarco Murray during this season? I realize running back has become less of a priority in the league and running backs seem more easily replaceable, and not to compare him to Adrian Peterson, but isn't Murray somewhat unique in his talents and not really easily replaced? Fail to sign him now, and unless he has a middling season -- likely only if he's injured again -- Dallas will likely lose a "championship-caliber" RB.
Rowan: I don't think they're likely to lose him if he's that amazing and talked about among the best running backs in the league. If he's not, he doesn't get extended. I will say I was surprised to hear that come out, but I'm not surprised that they wouldn't extend him during the year. Running backs have become replaceable in this league, and unless you're really one of the elites, rarely do they deserve second contracts. If he proves worthy of that deal, they'll try to get it done. But Dez and Tyron are more pressing, and he's got to stay on the field to prove he's worth it.
David: Honestly, I think it's a great call. DeMarco Murray strikes me as a guy who plays his best when he's got something to be angry about, and having his durability and talent questioned seems like it'd make him plenty angry. I think Murray is a good running back, but I don't think I'd pay him like one of the best three or four players at his position. Let him run with a chip on his shoulder for another season, and let the chips fall where they may in regard to his contract.