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Mailbag: Who Provides Juice for Special Teams

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Assuming he gets a big deal somewhere else, will losing Byron Jones in free agency hurt players like Jourdan Lewis?– CHRIS DAVIS / MODESTO, CA

Rob: If Jones leaves, it would temporarily leave a pretty big hole in the secondary. He has been their most experienced and productive corner. But it would create opportunity for players such as Lewis, who maximized additional snaps last season (particularly in the slot) after Anthony Brown got hurt.

Jonny: Losing a veteran presence can impact a player, but I think just about everyone is hoping to find out what Lewis will look like in a larger role. Whether he would replace Jones on the outside or remain in nickle packages, new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is going to want him around the ball as much as possible. I don't think losing Jones would hurt Lewis, I think it would just expedite the process of finding out if he's already reached his ceiling or if there's more to go for him.

As a lifelong fan, I've seen guys like Dwayne Harris, Danny McCray, and even Jeff Heath come in and make HUGE contributions to special teams. Who do you like as a Free agent or even late draft pick who can provide "juice" to our 3rd phase?– MITCH TAYLOR / SCHENECTADY / NY

Rob: It's a great question because they need more core contributors, and new coordinator John Fassel will have his own take on the players he needs. Typically you have to find guys in the later rounds – rookies who can help on special teams but also project as rotation players at some point. On the current roster, how about a larger role for Tony Pollard in the return game?

Jonny: While the Cowboys should get credit for Harris, McCray, and Heath, I think if they were being honest, they'd probably admit that they got lucky in finding them. Once they had them on the roster, they saw something worth investing in and were rewarded. So, it's hard to predict a player like that before they're on the roster, but I could see Donovan Peoples-Jones slipping to the fourth round, and I'd love to see him developed as a returner.

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