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Mailbag: Will Church's Speed Decrease After Injury?

Barry Church looked good at safety, but he's never seemed very fast. How concerned should Cowboys fans be about what he'll be like speed-wise after returning from an Achilles injury?

Nick: I think it's something you have to be concerned about. I've always been told the Achilles injury is one of the hardest to return from. And for a guy that didn't have blazing speed, yeah it's got to be a concern. But let's not forget a few things. First, Church is an instinctive player that seems to get around the football. That's not a speed or quickness thing, but awareness. Plus, these Cowboys' training staff got Greg Ellis back from an Achilles injury and he was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2007. But it'll be something to watch closely.

Rowan: Barry Church looked quicker, more aggressive and in better shape entering this season than he the year before. He really looked like a completely different player – one poised for a breakout season at safety. There's no doubt an Achilles injury could change that this coming year. The Cowboys have to hope that based on his dedication in the offseason to put himself in position to start this year, he'll bring the same intensity to his offseason workouts following the injury and get somewhere close to what he used to be. But there's no doubt speed should be a concern until he demonstrates he can move around the same way.

Do you guys think Morris Claiborne lived up to the Cowboys trade up this year in the draft for him at sixth?

Nick: That's a tough question. Right now, I think you'd rather see who you could've gotten at 14 and a second-round pick. But, I do think Claiborne is going to be a really good player. When you take someone at No. 6, and make a trade up to get him, the expectations will be through the roof. I'm not sure he will ever live up to them. But with Carr on the other side, I think those two have formed a good tandem and will push each other for years.

Rowan: The answer for that will come after next season. I want to see two seasons, even with the higher picks, to see how they progress professionally. Just look at Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, although I realize those weren't top 10 draft picks. He probably didn't meet everyone's colossal expectations. But realistically, he played well and gave people a reason to be excited about his development. A couple of offensive linemen wouldn't have hurt in the first and second rounds instead, but the Cowboys needed help in the secondary, and he can help provide it for a long time to come.

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