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18) Is Kyle Orton A Reliable Safety Net For Tony Romo?


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 will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.

With 20 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the man behind The Man at quarterback:

18) Is Kyle Orton A Reliable Safety Net For Tony Romo?

In a lot of ways you might consider Kyle Orton a luxury for an NFL roster – a backup quarterback with multiple years of starting experience under his belt. 

Orton appeared in 13 or more games during five of his first six seasons in the league. He even achieved a moderate level of success in 2009 and 2010, when he combined for 7,455 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 21 picks as the starter in Denver.

His career trajectory took a noted downward turn after that 2010 season, though, when the Broncos limped to a 4-12 record. Orton began 2011 as the Broncos' starter, but he was famously replaced by Tim Tebow after a shaky start. Following a trade to the Chiefs, he threw for 779 yards and one score in four games.

In 2012, his first year with Dallas, he threw a grand total of 10 passes for 89 yards.

So, to do the math: Orton has completed 68 passes for 868 yards, two touchdowns and two picks since he lost his starting job in Denver. On top of that, he hasn't exactly looked impressive in the spotlight as the Cowboys' top quarterback during OTAs and minicamp.

It's not exactly the biggest issue in the world, considering the Cowboys have a Pro Bowl quarterback as their starter. But you never know what could happen – Romo missed the spring after having surgery on a cyst, and he missed 10 games during the 2010 season with a broken collarbone.

The Cowboys look likely to employ just two quarterbacks on the 2012 roster, same as 2012. Is Orton a safe bet as the second-string guy? If the team was going to bring in another quarterback to provide training camp competition, they probably would have done it by now. But it's something worth keeping an eye on.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 18: [embedded_ad]

  • Speaking of Orton, he wears the same number as fellow Cowboys backup Glenn Carano. The UNLV product spent six seasons with Dallas and only managed one start, in the 1981 season. He completed 21-of-57 career passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Bobby Carpenter was the most recent player selected 18th overall by the Cowboys in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played four years in Dallas but only earned three starts and made just 81 tackles.
  • Mike Sherard (1986), Thomas Henderson (1975) and Sonny Gibbs (1962) were also selected 18th overall by the Cowboys. Sherrard showed promise with a 41-catch, 744-yard rookie campaign. But gruesome broken legs sidelined him for the duration of the 1987 and 1988 seasons, ending his tenure with the Cowboys. Henderson played five seasons at linebacker with the Cowboys and was a starter in 37 games. Gibbs never played a down for Dallas.
  • The 1995 Cowboys only allowed 18 sacks on the quarterback en route to the Super Bowl XXX championship. That's a franchise record.
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