IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.
Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.
As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.
With 50 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on the player wearing the No. 50,
50) After excelling in the 3-4, could Sean Lee perform even better as a middle linebacker in the 4-3?
The Cowboys took a chance by selecting a linebacker with a recent knee problem in the second round in 2010.
The front office thought his ceiling might be worth the pick. Despite his injury concerns early in his career, they were right.
Lee stormed ahead of his teammates in his first full season as a starting inside linebacker in 2011, recording more than 100 tackles to lead the team. He still finished as the Cowboys’ fourth leading tackler last season, despite missing 10 games with a season-ending toe injury.
There’s no doubting Lee’s injuries have limited him thus far. But there’s also no doubting what the defensive leader can do when he’s on the field. In just three seasons, his teammates already look to him for guidance. He’s one of the most cerebral players on the team, but he doesn’t let that slow him down.
Still, all those results occurred as an inside linebacker in the 3-4. Now he makes the switch to the 4-3, where some believe he could be even better as a player and playmaker with his range and quickness in the middle of Monte Kiffin’s defense.
Lee believes the switch could be beneficial for everyone.
“The guys we have are suited great for it, on the d-line, in the back end,” Lee said. “I think we’re making progress right now to be that consistent defense, something we weren’t in the past.”
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 50:
- D.D. Lewis has worn the No. 50 the longest for the Cowboys, donning the number in 1968 and from 1970-81. Jeff Rohrer wore it for six years in the ‘80s, while linebackers Brandon Tolbert, Jamal Brooks, Scott Fujita, Akin Ayodele and Justin Rogers and Lee all have wore the number since 2000.
- Kevin Williams’ 50-yard return against Buffalo in January 1994 is the third longest playoff kick return in team history. He also tied for the team’s sixth-longest playoff kickoff return with a 39-yarder against Green Bay a year later.
Dez Bryantfinished three games last season with at least one reception of 50 or more yards. He came up just short of a fourth at Philadelphia, with a 49-yard grab.
Anthony Spencerand Bruce Carterfinished with at least 50 solo tackles last season, according to coaches’ film.
- The Cowboys finished with at least 50 net yards rushing in nine of their 16 games last season.