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What's Up at LB? Kendricks, Overshown and more

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FRISCO, Texas — When training camp gets underway in Oxnard for the Dallas Cowboys in late July, it will mark the longest in the history of the franchise — 31 consecutive days — allowing plenty of time for each position, especially the linebackers, to acclimate to both the scheme and expectations of incoming/returning defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Eric Kendricks joins the mix to lead the charge at the position, having both a First-Team All-Pro nod on his NFL resume and keen insight into Zimmer's mind.

The return of DeMarvion Overshown also looms large, but the redshirted rookie has to both shorten his learning curve quickly and overcome the mental hurdle of returning from a major injury.

With so much unknown at the position in the wake of Leighton Vander Esch's career-ending neck injury, and Markquese Bell being moved back to safety, it's time to discuss "What's Up" at linebacker for 2024.

What We Know: Health will determine a lot here. Everyone following this team knows it was injury that ruined the depth chart at this position in 2023 — e.g., DeMarvion Overshown's torn ACL, Leighton Vander Esch's late-season neck injury — and rebuilding the corps by signing Eric Kendricks and drafting Marist Liufau will only matter if the unit as a whole can stay on the field for the entirety, or at least most, of the season to come. This group will also be leaned on heavily on special teams as well, thanks to the new kickoff rules and personnel needed there.

What We Don't: Technically, Overshown is a newcomer this year. How much grace will he need in his debut from a devastating knee injury? You'll have to also add this question to yet another as it relates to the very talented former third-round pick: how long will it take him to take a leap forward in Year 2 when he wasn't allowed a Year 1?? If Overshown can quickly get going in both areas — physically and mentally — this LBs group will be all the better for it.

What to Watch For: It feels a foregone conclusion that the three starters at off-ball linebacker (not at EDGE) are already named, but are they really? You can pencil in Kendricks as one, but maybe Overshown will be eased in and that would allow Damone Clark to remain a starter as he fights to break out in Year 3; and for Liufau to ramp up as well while things sort out behind these four players.

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