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51) Can Kyle Wilber Provide Stability For DE Rotation?


IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.

Coming off two straight 8-8 campaigns and three full years removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 schedule.

As we count down the days to camp, the writers of will take a different question each day concerning the team.

With 51 days until Dallas takes the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on defensive end depth.

51) Can Kyle Wilber Provide Stability For DE Rotation?

In the 13 months since he was drafted, Kyle Wilber suffered a broken finger that kept him out for more than two months of the offseason, which was followed by a broken thumb in the first preseason contest. He played in six games overall, albeit mostly on special teams.

In the offseason, he was slotted to remain at outside linebacker through the 4-3 switch, but is now moving to defensive end, a spot he played mostly in college at Wake Forest.

It's been a wild first year for Wilber, although the jury is still out on his ability to perform on the field.

The Cowboys signed Anthony Hargrove for stability at defensive end behind starters DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. But they probably prefer that Wilber be good enough to win that spot as the third end. He is a cheaper option than Hargrove, plus as a draft pick, and the Cowboys always tend to favor playing their selected guys.

But that just means Wilber should get every opportunity to succeed. That doesn't always mean it will work out.

Considering the injuries the Cowboys had last year with Ware and Spencer, finding some depth in Wilber and/or Hargrove should be beneficial. Then again, Wilber has to show he can stay healthy himself.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 51:

  • The Cowboys have had 14 players wear No. 51 over the years. Most notably, center Dave Manders donned it for 10 years with two different stints from 1964-66 and 1968-74. Ken Norton Jr. wore No. 51 from 1988-93.
  • From 2002-2009, four different free-agent linebackers wore No. 51: Kevin Hardy, Al Singleton, Akin Ayodele and Keith Brooking.
  • Former wide receiver Tony Hill ranks third on the Cowboys' all-time TD reception list with 51 touchdown catches. Hill is behind only Bob Hayes (71) and Michael Irvin (65).
  • The Cowboys' single-game playoff record for rushing attempts is 51, set in 1971 against the 49ers. The Cowboys won the game 14-3 to advance to Super Bowl VI.
  • Sam Hurd's 51-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Giants sealed a 45-35 victory on opening night in 2007. That marked the last home opener for the Cowboys until they played New York to start the 2013 season at Cowboys Stadium.
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