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Cowboys mailbag: Offensive line trade, first-string offense and cut candidate questions

People have questions about the Cowboys, and we strive to provide the answers.

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

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

“Despite the OL in general struggling against Jacksonville, some rookies showed up well - Asim Richards, TJ Bass, Earl Bostick. Wait for them to develop or time for a panic trade?

(@ESchungo via X)

Mike: The return of Zack Martin puts the starting lineup back on track. The issue is depth. Personally I don’t even know at this stage who the backups will be at each position, and that’s a huge concern. With everyone holding their breath on every snap with Tyron Smith, and the unknowns that revolve around Terence Steele’s recovery, depth is a huge need for the offensive line. Matt Waletzko is now dealing with a shoulder injury like he did last year, so now depth takes another tumble. The good news is T.J. Bass has looked good so far and so has Asim Richards, so if they continue to stay effective in preseason they could help with depth to a degree. But you don’t want to mess around when it comes to the offensive line. It needs depth and the coaches need to go get some. Maybe that will wait until cutdowns in a couple of weeks and then see who is on the market.

Brandon: Out of all the names you listed, Asim Richards is performing the best in the games. Against the Seattle Seahawks, Richards held his own at the left tackle position protecting Cooper Rush’s blindside. With Zack Martin returning, it’s not as pressing of an issue, and the front office also doesn’t believe there to be any panic.

Believe it or not, Josh Ball has performed better at the guard position than he was as a tackle. With Matt Waletzko being sidelined for a bit with a shoulder injury, that can put Richards as the swing tackle with Ball being the backup guard. It may not be the most experienced group in Cowboys history, but if you look at all 31 other teams’ offensive line depth, they could all be in a similar position.

“When will we see the first string offense all together?”

(Roger Linder via Facebook)

Mike: Simple answer here is against the New York Giants during Week 1. My personal opinion is to keep the starters out during preseason games, I would much rather the team starters play rusty Week 1 than be lost for the season due to a meaningless game. And I know what everyone will say, that playing rusty can cause injuries and playing rusty got Dak injured last year. But that was more a freak accident than players not playing effectively. Expect the Las Vegas game to have even lower down-roster players, so guys like Deuce Vaughn, DaRon Bland and Damone Clark will be left to rest and have proved enough.

Brandon: As Mike mentioned above, it will be Week 1 at the Meadowlands. The Cowboys’ coaching staff and players have the confidence to perform well without game reps during the preseason. Sure, other teams across the NFL have played some starters as the Seahawks did on Saturday, but the risk of injury is not worth the reward.

Look at it this way; the Cowboys lost their season opener at home last year and still managed to win 12 games. I think they will be okay if they don’t get any practice against Las Vegas next week.

“If you had to cut anyone now, who would it be?”

(Rich Gillett via Facebook)

Mike: This maybe controversial but I’m saying Jourdan Lewis. I want to say I’m a big fan of Lewis and he’s become a steady veteran presence for Dallas which is crazy to think how quickly the time has passed. But the Lisfranc injury is a hard hurdle to come back from and at a position that requires high levels of athleticism, especially when you consider he plays mostly from the slot, you have to wonder what type of player the Cowboys will get back. By cutting him the Cowboys will get somewhere close to $5 million back in cap space, and his replacement last year in DaRon Bland proved he was up to the task.

For a less controversial cut let’s go with Brock Hoffman. There’s enough on tape now to show he is struggling at this level and needs more than one year on a practice squad to be a guy that can be relied upon.

Brandon: There is no need to cut anyone right now. The league has done a great job ensuring every player has a chance to make their way onto a roster until the last second a team needs to decide on their 53-man roster. With only one cut-down day, it can help teams evaluate the players from the draft and undrafted free agency because of their extended playing time.

With only one preseason game left, it’s essential to have as much depth as possible to get through the game and not have any star players you don’t want on the field getting hurt. For example, cutting Malik Davis right now just to see more of Deuce Vaughn does not make a lot of sense.

Poll Of The Week: Finally on the Mailbag, we asked you which players were the biggest surprise at training camp. Here are the results and our take on the poll.

Brandon: I’ve been the Jalen Tolbert bandwagon captain since last season’s end. Fans are accustomed to seeing rookie receivers come into the league and be impactful contributors immediately. Tolbert came from a smaller school in South Alabama, so a learning curve should have been expected.

The coaching staff admitted they threw too much on his plate as a rookie and believe that could have contributed to his lack of success in year one. Flash forward to his first full offseason as a pro, and he’s been grinding with Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandin Cooks, constantly learning how to get better.

Cooks should help the offense on his own this season, but how he’s taken Tolbert under his wing since day one should pay dividends in the future when Tolbert continues to ascend in Dallas.

Mike: I’m eating my words from a few weeks ago before training camp when someone asked on a mailbag article who we think might be a surprise player to get released and I said Jalen Tolbert. In that article I mentioned how he needs to take a huge jump from last year’s standards to be something tangible for this offense, and that leap just seems to be to large of an undertaking. Well here we are and Tolbert has done more than take that jump, he’s hurdled over it at warp speed and that line is just a dot in the distance. His camp showing was impressive, his game against Jacksonville was impressive and now after Seattle I’m fully on-board and buying the Tolbert hype. He’s now the teams WR4 and that’s how it will stay for Week 1, and that’s just perfect.

Be sure to check Blogging The Boys as well as @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on X and also Facebook for the weekly post, asking for your questions to include in the weekly mailbag. Also, check for the Poll of The Week on X. Many thanks to everyone that sends in your questions and votes.

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