Cowboys Q&A: 'Ask BTB' Running Back Depth And O-Line Performance

Phillip Tanner made the team as a fourth running back in 2011; will he hold off Lance Dunbar and force the team to choose between four on the 53 or the Practice Squad Roulette.

In honor of the great questions we've received, and so you don't have to read over 4,000 words in one sitting; we're going to divvy up the responses throughout the week. Don't forget, the mailbox is always open so keep sending those questions in!

You can send an email directly to me at KDP10For10@gmail.com. If you have a quick, short-winded question, feel free to Tweet me @BloggingTheBoys. Use the hashtag #AskBTB so I know not to answer it directly on Twitter and give you a chance to be published in one of these articles. Remember to include your BTB handle in your correspondence!

I want to know your thoughts on the chance that Lance Dunbar has to stick on the roster this year. It seems like Phillip Tanner will give him stiff competition for the 3rd running back spot (props to Jason Garrett for making the 3rd RB battle and other position battles further down the depth chart interesting), but what are the chances that if Tanner does win the 3rd RB spot that the Cowboys would be interested in stashing him on the practice squad?


Not sure if RBs usually get placed on the PS or not. Even if the Cowboys were interested in trying to get him on the PS, wouldn't another team that needs a 3rd or even 2nd RB (perhaps due to injury) snatch up University of North Texas' all-time leading rusher on waivers and give him a shot?

Hippie_Mike

See the answer to this and more after the jump...

I want to know your thoughts on the chance that Lance Dunbar has to stick on the roster this year. It seems like Phillip Tanner will give him stiff competition for the 3rd running back spot (props to Jason Garrett for making the 3rd RB battle and other position battles further down the depth chart interesting), but what are the chances that if Tanner does win the 3rd RB spot that the Cowboys would be interested in stashing him on the practice squad?


Not sure if RBs usually get placed on the PS or not. Even if the Cowboys were interested in trying to get him on the PS, wouldn't another team that needs a 3rd or even 2nd RB (perhaps due to injury) snatch up University of North Texas' all-time leading rusher on waivers and give him a shot?

Hippie_Mike

Tom: Lance Dunbar seemed to have some good practices. He is seen as a definite challenge for the third spot, and Dallas has gone four deep at RB in recent history. He may be an argument to do so again. If he does not make the 53, I think it is a safe bet they try to get him onto the practice squad so they can call him up if one of the other RBs goes down. My own best guess is that the team is going to try to go with four backs this year so they don't risk having Dunbar poached by someone. One way or another, I expect him to be drawing at least a PS paycheck from someone this year.

KD: Dallas went into 2011 with four running backs, no fullbacks and four tight ends on their roster. However, they went thin at linebacker with only seven and I don't think they are doing that this year with at three legitimate backup OLBs (Butler, Wilber and Hamilton). In 2010, they went with 2 FBs, 3 RBs but only 2 TEs. There is definitely a chance that Dunbar makes the 53 if he refuses to be denied during camp; but I'd say the safe bet is the practice squad. Phillip Tanner has a great deal of talent but missed his opportunity when a hamstring injury placed him on IR while he could have been shining in DeMarco Murray's absence. A Tanner training camp injury opens the door wide for Dunbar.

The PS is a crapshoot. In my 53 man roster projection, I opined about the fact that a RB starved team would poach Dunbar and it's a distinct possibility. You might see Dallas hold him back from preseason action if he lights up the practice sessions and they know there's a bright future.

Hi KD,

Great job on the pod-casts and the rest of your work. And this mailbag is yet another good idea. Thanks for all your work. Okay, on to my mail-bag question:

From the shiny new cornerbacks to our young ILBs, the defense is starting to look formidable. Now the O-line is clearly the biggest question mark. From Costa to the new free-agents, the interior O-line has their warts. Good coaching and, for several of these guys, simply growing up / experience can help, but what is your guess as to how they perform this year? And for a follow-up: If this O-line can get the job done, what's your over-under on Cowboy's victories?

Mike L.

KD: Hey Mike, much appreciated. I love over/under questions; but first let's talk the O-Line development. If any writer/blogger/reporter has tried to convince you of anything to this point of the offseason; they're lying. We don't have any clue based on no-pads-practices. Once camp starts, we'll get a better picture of how people are doing individually, but more importantly, as a cohesive unit. Offensive lines are all about playing together, and honestly Dallas has completely revamped their offensive line for the second year in a row. This time, they even threw in a new offensive line coach. Scary thoughts, but it's not all bad.

Now, Phil Costa played better as 2011 wore on, though he was so bad early on that any mistake made in the second half of the season was looked at as the same ol' same ol'. I got a good report on Nate Livings from Joe Goodberry of Cincy Jungle who says if you don't try and pull him, he'll be an excellent addition. Carolina had a great offensive line last year and Bernadeau was supposed to start. He was injured early in camp, and when his backup went down, the team decided to hit the market for a starter. But a team that put together a Top 5 run line (yes, Cam had a lot to do with that) felt Bernie was good enough for them. There's your hope for 2012 right there.

I think with the growing pains and search for cohesion, we're looking at Dallas getting things on the line together by midseason barring injury. I think they'll play much better down the stretch than to start the season. That hasn't been this team's M.O. in the past due to lack of depth, but hopefully that's been addressed over the last couple of hauls.

Over/Under prediction if the line holds up? I'm going 9 wins. More if it holds up, less if it doesn't.

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