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Cowboys mailbag: Questions about team confidence, run game and Peyton Hendershot

Our latest mailbag features plenty of questions about the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, we take questions on Twitter and Facebook about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

“What’s your feeling about Dallas’ success for the rest of the season”

(Ed Helsinki via Twitter)

Mike: Last week I got the chance to spend time at The Star and chat to some of the media folk there. The general feeling and mood around the building is extremely positive and optimistic. You have to think if the media staff are feeling this way, then the morale and attitude of the team has to be that high as well. And all this was before the team went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks. A positive mental attitude only breeds more success, so expect more success as the season draws on.

Brandon: Undoubtedly, the Cowboys are about to enter a brutal gauntlet for the month of December. They are coming off test No. 1, winning all three games in a 12-day stretch. Now, they will take on the Eagles, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions, all powerhouses of the NFL.

The way Dallas has been playing should give confidence they could win all of those games, but if they go 2-2, I think that’s a win. Is a successful season winning the division or getting to the playoffs? If success is defined by them winning the NFC East, that will be tough. However, if it’s based on the Cowboys making the playoffs, they will be on their way to another successful season.

“What can the team do to get the run going better?”

(Jason Swisher via Facebook)

Mike: It all comes down to the offensive line. Among starting running backs, Tony Pollard has been averaging 4.1 yards-per-carry this season, which ranks ninth-best. But in the last three weeks, Pollard has been averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry, which is fifth-best in that time. That shows an improvement obviously, but what it shows is how the offensive line has started playing better as a unit. The offensive line started the season a little broken with players coming off injury or missing time, this meant being effective as a run blocking unit, especially in terms of zone blocking, was behind where it needed to be. As the starting offensive line plays together more we’ll see that unit play with more cohesiveness, which in turn will help the run game.

Brandon: I believe the run game has improved each week since the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Tony Pollard has looked more explosive, and Rico Dowdle has added a boost to the run game when he’s gotten his touches.

If you’re expecting Dowdle to have more of a 50/50 split, I don’t believe that’s the case anymore. Over the past three games, Pollard has had 45 carries, 208 yards, three touchdowns, and an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

The Cowboys' offense could lean more on Dowdle when they go up to Buffalo in a few weeks, given the cold environment, but making sure Pollard heats up before the playoff run is critical to the success of Dallas’ offense because of how dynamic he is.

“When will Peyton Hendershot play? Or is he still hurt?”

(Joe Tranchina via Facebook)

Mike: Interesting question as Hendershot is nearing the end of his practice window. In order for him to come back someone has to lose their roster space, so the question is who. The only news we can report is that Hendershot has said he feels “fresh” and “eager to move”. But the team did not activate him for the Seahawks game, and even brought up Princeton Fant to the game which is telling. This week we find out what the team will ultimately do with Hendershot.

Brandon: There should be a good shot that Peyton Hendershot is activated this week. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN mentioned the coach’s plans to have the second-year tight end return to the field this year.

The problematic part becomes, who will be taken off the 53-man roster so Hendershot can come on? The Cowboys like what they’ve seen from Sean McKeon, so I don’t think he’ll be released. Looking at the injury report last week, rookie linebacker Tyrus Wheat was dealing with a concussion but was cleared to play against the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe it lingers and requires him to go on injured reserve.

However, if the Cowboys are still in the sweepstakes for Shaq Leonard, that means they’ll need to make two moves to get Hendershot and Leonard on the roster if Leonard doesn’t start on the practice squad first. Having a healthy team is always a good problem, but tough decisions might have to be made when it comes to moving the roster around.



How confident are you that Dallas will make the playoffs?

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