40) Can Cowboys Get By With Just One Special Teams Ace?

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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 43 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on special-teams players.

40) Can Cowboys Get By With Just One Special Teams Ace?

Over the years, the Cowboys have typically had that one player who made the team for one reason – covering kicks. With a deep snapper on the roster, that's one spot delegated to the kicking game. So whether it's a guy like Bill Bates for many years, or Kenny Gant, Jim Schwantz or Keith Davis, the Cowboys have typically had that one player who makes the team for his kick-covering skills.

If that happens this year, Danny McCray seems to be the logical choice. He wears the No. 40 jersey well, considering Bill Bates was the Cowboys' first legitimate special teams player. He actually helped create a spot in the Pro Bowl for the special teams ace. McCray has proven to be a great special teams guy, but he did struggle last year when asked to play some safety. If the Cowboys can figure out that position and allow McCray to focus solely on the kicking game, he can potentially compete for that Pro Bowl spot. In his first two seasons in the NFL, McCray led the Cowboys in special teams tackles, becoming the first play since Bates (1989-90) to lead the club in that category two straight years.

Last year, McCray finished with 18 tackles, ranking second behind Eric Frampton (21).

However, maybe the Cowboys will go with more than one special teams player. They drafted DeVonte Holloman in the sixth round for his ability to play on teams. Other NFL squads around the league have two to three players devoted to special teams and with new coach Rich Bisaccia trying to make his mark, the Cowboys could very well do that.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 40:

  • Bruce Carter was drafted 40th overall in the 2011 draft.
  • The Cowboys scored 40 points in a playoff win over Minnesota in 1996, the third-highest point total in postseason history.
  • Bill Bates wore No. 40 for 15 seasons from 1983-97, making the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 1984.
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