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Bulked-Up Wilber Expecting Smooth Transition To 4-3 DE
GRAPEVINE, Texas – A few days before the start of the free-agent signing period, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said he expected Kyle Wilber to compete for a starting spot at outside linebacker.
But a few weeks later, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli saw something on film that caught his eye.
Marinelli sought out Wilber for a meeting and asked him about making a switch to defensive end, a move the second-year pro from Wake Forest accepted, and seems excited about.
Wilber played defensive end in college, although Wake Forest often used some odd-man fronts.
“My hand was on the ground at Wake, so I don’t think it’s going to be a big difference moving from the 3-4 to a 4-3,” Wilber said. “Our outside linebackers were basically defensive ends in a stand-up (stance). It will be less dropping (in coverage).”
To make the switch, Wilber said he has added about 10 pounds from last year, where he was listed at 246. He says he’s now at 255 and could get up to 260 as long as he can keep the same speed.
Wilber, a fourth-round pick in 2012 out of Wake Forest, played in just 10 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams. He was inactive for six games and fought through two injuries last year, a broken finger in the offseason and a broken thumb in the preseason opener.
“It definitely set me back a lot,” Wilber said. “Not being out there and not being able to learn. I missed a great opportunity to make strides and get better. This year I hope it’s a lot better.”
The Cowboys are thin at the backup defensive end spots behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Wilber said he is hopeful to have a similar role as Victor Butler last year. Butler backed up both spots and had significant playing time despite starting only one game.
As for the outside linebacker position, the Cowboys will likely start out with Bruce Carter on the weak side and Justin Durant at strong. Competing with Durant will be Alex Albright, rookie Brandon Magee and perhaps, veteran Ernie Sims.