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Cowboys Q&A: 'Ask BTB' - When Will Claiborne Be Ready, Ogletree's chances, More.

Not quite yet...
Not quite yet...

Welcome back to 'Ask BTB', your opportunity to ask the front-page writers of Blogging The Boys questions you might have had rattling around in your head. There are several ways for you to submit your questions for future editions.

First, you can send an email directly to me at This allows you to make you questions as detailed as possible. 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!

Also, don't despair if you sent in a question and it wasn't chosen for the article. It could still be used in a future piece. Keep the submissions coming, they've been great! Some of them are so good, they've earned their own articles.

OK, so let's dive into the questions and see what's on the minds of our members as we inch towards next week's veteran minicamps and actual workouts in pads.

When will we see Morris Claiborne active and practicing with the first team? Will he be ready for training camp or can we expect to see him earlier? Also, any news on when Danny Coale will return? (David A., screenname unknown)

KD: Hey David. First off, make sure you check out the point-counterpoint that was played out by Coty and Archie on the merits of the starting corner and if anything should be gleaned from Rob Ryan's OTA comments.

Claiborne is back on the field, but not participating until training camp. Currently, he is shadowing his fellow corners, but isn't making plays on the thrown balls or the route-running receivers. He still can't risk damage to the ligaments in his wrist. You've got to love the kid's enthusiasm though; he's itching to get out there. Not itching like Lawrence "Red Ants Biting His Privates" Vickers, but he's pretty fidgety.

As for Danny Coale, he should also be back in time for training camp; his broken foot should be healed by then. He faces a different problem. He might not even be the best rookie Cole on the roster when he returns, as rabblerouser wrote yesterday.

Follow the jump for much more...

How really big is the impact oh the penalty imposed on the 'Boys? Yes, we lose 10 mil in cap space but, how much did we save in cap space reworking Austin´s deal? How much is the real difference? Maybe the penalty is not as big as we all think? (Miguel B., screenname unknown)

KD: Well, we lost $5m over each of the 2012 and 2013 season; since the NFL gave us the "opportunity" to split up the penalty over the two seasons (just like releasing a player after June 1st cuts). Wasn't that nice of Goodell and Mara? Those guys are always on the up and up, making sure that all parties receive a fair shake. Of course, if they shook the Redskins and Cowboys any more they'd be considered jer-.. you know the rest.

Now, Austin's situation was a bit strange. After a breakout '09, he was a restricted free agent only because of there being no CBA. He would have been unrestricted otherwise. In June of 2010, he signed his tender for a little over $3 million. In September '10, he signed a six-year, $54 million extension (added six years, reworked original 2010 contract amount) that paid him $17 million in his uncapped year and there was no signing bonus. It was supposed to pay him over $8m in base salary, but he reworked the deal and pushed most of the money into a signing bonus that prorated over the last six years of the contract in '11.

So the short answer is that we only saved money of the '11 cap to offset all of the dead money from the releases of several veterans. The reworked deal of '11 actually placed more money on the '12-'16 caps for Dallas. The penalty is straight forward, Dallas lost $5 million in cap space each year ('12-'13). That could have been used as extra money to throw at a free agent, finding reasonably inexpensive injury replacements, providing extensions to current players to keep future salary cap implications down... it's a big deal any way you slice it.

Being a fan of UVA, I've had a soft spot for Kevin Ogletree (and John Philips) ever since they were drafted. Unfortunately, Kevin has yet to step up and be the #3 receiver that most of us have hoped, and it seems the 'window is closing' on his chances of even staying with the team. Does he need to have an amazing year to keep a spot on the 'Boys, much less be the #3 wide out? Thanks! (Robert D., screenname unknown)

Tom Ryle: I don't see KO needing to have an outstanding year. He just needs to prove he is a better option than the young players. Given his experience, he may have to show more than they do, and I would expect the coaches to look at him with a more critical eye. The competition is going to be tough, and I think he has more to prove.

KD: I think that KO was a last option for Dallas and they signed him simply because they didn't want to be handcuffed heading into the draft. Sorry Robert, I have a soft spot for UVA players as well, but I think this is his final opportunity to impress the team and if he doesn't he'll be overlooked for lower spots on the depth chart. Holmes, Beasley, Coale all impress me from reports more than Ogletree; and Coale hasn't even practiced. I think he has a huge hill to climb.

Why does the NFL game day roster have to be restricted to 46 players? Why would the players union ever agree to this in the CBA? Maybe the veterans prefer it because it helps protect their playing time? But it seems to me that with the concerns over concussions that a larger active player pool is better because it leaves more available replacements when someone gets their bell rung. I've heard the argument that it keeps one team that has fewer injuries from having a competitive advantage over a team with more injuries. But that's the nature of football right? (Jebediah Flibberbrush)

Tom Ryle: The 46 man roster is supposed to keep teams from gaining some kind of advantage over other teams who have injuries. From a quick review, it seems to have been put in because teams were "stashing" players on IR. I think it is outdated myself. I'll get a note off to John Mara on that.

rabblerousr: The size of NFL rosters has been in flux for several decades. From 1964-73, rosters were limited to 40 players, but increased to 47 in 1974. In the 80s, teams realized that they could stash young players on injured reserve so that they could keep them from other teams while they developed, got stronger, etc. This gave the better, deeper teams a competitive advantage, the equivalent of a tax-free offshore account. In 1991, the league, in an effort to crack down on this practice, instituted a form of the present system, with a larger roster, eight game-day inactives, and a "practice squad" whose players other teams can poach. The inactive list has several functions: a short-term IR, a place to stash developing players that the team doesn't want to expose by placing them on the practice squad and, with increasing specialization, the opportunity to craft a game-day roster to that week's opponent.

So there’s been a lot of talk about Claiborne and Carr, and our safeties – basically, our DBs in general. How will they stack up against the strengths/weaknesses of NFC East quarterbacks, specifically? Manning’s deep threats, RGIII’s arm and athleticism, etc. Thanks! (Timothy J., screenname unknown)

Tom Ryle: I don't see DB's as stacking up against QBs. I see them stacking up against WRs. If the wideouts can't get open, the QB can't risk throwing to them. I also don't think we will know much about them until they actually play the other teams - but if they can do a good job covering Dez and Miles in practice, we will be in good shape.

O.C.C.: Better DB play will allow the Cowboys DL to get more pressure on Manning. These are Manning’s season passer ratings for the last four years when under pressure: 2008: 47.7, 2009: 76.9, 2010: 60.6, 2011: 80.2.

But it’s not the traditional pressure from the outside that you need. With Eli, you’ve got to collapse the pocket. Eli is not a good scrambler at all, but he’s a really good shuffler. What he does exceptionally well is to take two small steps up in the pocket or two small steps to the side and get the ball out. Both Eli and Peyton both do this really well. Take away his ability to move in the pocket and you ‘ve got him.

The easiest way to beat Vick is probably to pretend you’re not the Cowboys, because Vick has got the Cowboys’ number. Against Vick, the Cowboys often played a type of prevent defense in which they dropped both their safeties way back, exposing large areas in the middle of the field that the linebackers needed to cover – and couldn’t. So to beat Vick, you have to take away the middle of the field, where a streaking and uncovered Maclin, Jackson or Celek ran all over the Cowboys last year.

The rookie QB in Washington? Blitz him.

Do you think the center of the Cowboys O-line will really be that much better if any better at all in 2012? (@Riverotter1968)

rabblerousr: I expect the interior of the offensive line to be better than it was in 2011, for two reasons: Mike Woicek and Bill Callahan. Last year, the Dallas OL featured a lot of first-year guys. A longstanding truism holds that the biggest leap in performance for young players is from year one to year two; with Woicik behind them, I expect the young-uns to get much stronger. In addition, last year's group suffered from mental lapses, which I think Callahan, a stickler for proper communication and technique, will help to reduce. Finally, the Dallas OL is significantly deeper, particularly at OG, than they have been in years. I think this will generate competition, greater focus, and less drop-off should one of them go down. Do I think we'll see another version of the 90s lines? No. Do I think they will have the most effective group since 2007? Yes.

Tom Ryle: I think the interior O Line will do better, mainly because of Mike Woicik and Bill Callahan. I don't know for sure about Livings, but the Cowboys from last year are all young and at the stage of their career where they normally improve from season to season. I also think Ron Leary is going to be one of the great UDFA pickups in the league this year.

O.C.C.: Better? Better than what?

Over the last couple of years, the majority of Cowboys fans are to the Cowboys O-line what journalists were to Spiro Agnew: Nattering nabobs of negativism. Football Outsiders ranked the 2011 O-line ninth in run-blocking and 13th in pass protection. That’s already better than half of the O-lines in the league, and that was done with a gimpy right guard, a lumpy left guard and a newbie center.

That’s all changing in 2012, so yes, I think the interior O-line will be better than it was last year, but that doesn’t mean the majority of Cowboys fans will see it that way. After all, it’s always the O-line’s fault.

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