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Stephen Jones Sees D-Line As Cowboys Primary Need

Tyrone Crawford missed the 2013 season with a torn Achilles. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Tyrone Crawford missed the 2013 season with a torn Achilles. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – Cowboys VP Stephen Jones doesn’t expect any big changes in the next few days at Valley Ranch, but that didn’t stop him from identifying his primary focus heading into the offseason.

“I think our biggest challenge is to get a better roster — get us to where we can compete better,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan’s G-Bag Nation. “I think it will start with our defensive front.”

The Cowboys cycled 20 different defensive lineman through the depth charts this season, after injuries left the team decimated and struggling to find a solution.

Free agent defensive tackle Jason Hatcher — the anchor along the line — would love to finish his career in Dallas, but will likely find a number of suitors on the open market after his best season as a professional.

Jones didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing Hatcher back, citing Jay Novacek and Darren Woodson as notable players that hit the open market and returned.

“We’re certainly going to keep our hat in the ring,” said Jones. “You never know what markets are going to do out there.”

Dallas spent the past two offseasons focusing on improving the offensive line — and it worked. First rounders Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, as well as a revitalized Doug Free, were steady in 2013. Jones hopes to accomplish a similar feat with the D-line this offseason.

“Obviously we’ll turn our attention to the front 7 because with the injuries –and obviously the cap situation that we have — we’ll certainly have to take a long hard look at it.”

Defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who Jones labeled the “best young defensive lineman coming into camp”, is expected to return after missing 2013 with a torn Achilles. That’s a start.

As far as making any other rash decisions on the heels of an emotional loss?

“Usually the day after is not the best time to make any big decisions. We’ll just be evaluating our team — be evaluating everything from stem to stern,” said Jones. “There won’t be any big decisions here in the next day or two.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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