- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're heading into the weekend and we have our Dallas Cowboys twitter mailbag.
And if you have further questions, please free free to ask at @calvinwatkins.
@calvinwatkins Dez Bryant in my mind is top 3 receiver in league and still is just getting better each year. Thoughts?
— Mauz (@Mauzy21) June 27, 2014
@calvinwatkins: Here's my Top 3: Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson. Fitzgerald might have slowed down a bit, but he remains a solid route runner and is one of the best at just snatching the ball. Marshall and Johnson are big targets who demand double teams. Dez Bryant is great at snatching the ball from defenders, and I expect his route running and his abilities to read defenses to improve. You saw last season he was able to make adjustments as the game progressed. He's a physical freak of nature, and he's tough and plays hard through nagging injuries. I expect another big season from Bryant.
@calvinwatkins I'm thinking Dallas goes 4-12 this year. What're your predictions?
— Anthony E (@Soadman76) June 27, 2014
@calvinwatkins: Not 4-12. Cowboys are better than this, yet the past three seasons this team has finished 8-8. During that time, the roster got younger thanks to the draft and some free-agent moves, and the talent base is inexperienced and comes with questions. Replacing Sean Lee at middle linebacker and finding a pass-rusher to cause problems in the pocket are the biggest issues for the defense. Tony Romo's recovery from back surgery and whether Scott Linehan can push this offense to greater heights than Bill Callahan did last season, are other storylines. I just don't think the Cowboys have gotten better. Younger? Sure. Better? No. I think this team is 7-9.
@calvinwatkins What is your projected d line starters ?
— Philippe Lancup (@phil_lancup) June 27, 2014
@calvinwatkins: The defensive ends are George Selvie and DeMarcus Lawrence. Selvie is coming off a career-high seven sack season and Lawrence is a rookie. It's doubtful, at least in the very beginning of the year, that Selvie and Lawrence will draw double teams. The one-technique tackle is Nick Hayden, but Terrell McClain will push him in training camp. Henry Melton will play the three-technique spot. Anthony Spencer is an interesting player in all of this, as he is recovering from microfracture surgery and could be ready by Week 1. Spencer might be a solid third-down back as the season moves along. If Spencer proves he's better than Selvie, then he could regain his starting job.
@calvinwatkins Will Morris Claiborne give us a solid season,can he be a difference maker? who will take the defensive leadership role?
— vincent thompson sr. (@seniorvince) June 27, 2014
@calvinwatkins: The problem with Morris Claiborne is health. He's not a starter, Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr are at the top of the depth chart. When the Cowboys go to three corners, Scandrick moves to the slot and Claiborne takes on the outside receiver, we all know this. Claiborne has to get stronger overall. He wants to play through these health problems but his body won't allow him to. He just doesn't make enough plays on the ball and that drives the defensive coaches crazy. Claiborne has the speed to keep with most receivers and the long arms to defend passes, but he doesn't do it on a regular basis. Claiborne looked pretty good during the offseason work, so let's see if that carries over into training camp.
@calvinwatkins the cowboys still haven't addressed their issue at safety...not another year of Jeff Heath plz
— Sean Jay (@MeDicAiDMasTa) June 27, 2014
@calvinwatkins: Sean, that's more of a statement. The starters at safety are J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church. Heath played because of Wilcox's health issues and the coaches just felt more comfortable with him. Wilcox is a better tackler and displays better ball skills than Heath, that's why he's ahead of him on the depth chart now. We'll see how things go when training camp begins next month, but I expect Wilcox and Church, who led the team in tackles last season, to maintain their starting roles.