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26) Has Spencer Lived Up To First-Round Expectations?


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 26 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the career of Anthony Spencer.

26) Has Spencer Lived Up To First-Round Expectations?

When the Cowboys drafted Anthony Spencer with the 26th overall pick in 2007, he figured to be the perfect complement for DeMarcus Ware in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. In fact, NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted Spencer would be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year that season.

With lofty expectations that come with being a first-round pick, Spencer didn't exactly light it up at the beginning of his career. In fact, he battled with Greg Ellis for playing time.

But the Cowboys always said Spencer's value went much deeper than his sack total, which before last year, never exceeded six in one season. That's why many fans were stunned the Cowboys give Spencer the franchise tag worth $8.8 million for 2012.

However, Spencer didn't disappoint last year, producing a Pro Bowl season that included 11 sacks. More than that, Spencer made a few clutch plays, getting sacks in late stages of the game, including Cleveland, Cincinnati [embedded_ad] and the season finale in Washington.

Spencer was rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl, a game many thought could be the last time he wore a Cowboys helmet. But despite switching to the 4-3 scheme, a defense he played in college at Purdue, Spencer is still with the club after Dallas gave him another franchise tag for this season.

Once again, this will be a contract season for Spencer, who is looking for a long-term deal, but is prepared to play this season on the one-year status again.

So it begs the question: Has Spencer lived up to these first-round expectations. He's made one Pro Bowl in six years. And while he's been criticized for not having more sacks in his career, he'll enter the 2013 season ranked 12th in Cowboys history in sacks at 32.5.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 26:

  • Spencer isn't the only player the Cowboys have drafted 26th overall. In fact, they picked at that spot two straight years in 1981-82, getting tackle Howard Richards and cornerback Rod Hill, who is likely one of the bigger first-round busts in Cowboys history, playing just two seasons. Running back Bill Thomas was the 26th pick in the 1972 draft and played just one season.
  • The Cowboys have issued No. 26 to 12 different players over the years. The more prominent players to wear the jersey include Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, who spent most of his career with the Packers, Preston Pearson, Michael Downs and Kevin Smith.
  • Currently, veteran safety Will Allen wears No. 26.
  • Kicker Dan Bailey made 26 straight field goals during his rookie season of 2011, which tied Chris Boniol for the second-longest streak in franchise history. Boniol has the record for 27 straight in 1995.
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