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 53 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the final 53-man roster.
53) Which players will make the final 53-man roster after a training camp full of competition?
From safety to linebacker to offensive line to wide receiver, a handful of competitions during training camp and the preseason this year will lead to the Cowboys having to make some tough decisions with a final 53-man roster.
Barry Church, Matt Johnson, Will Allen, Danny McCray, J.J. Wilcox and Jakar Hamilton will all get looks at safety, but the Cowboys may not be able to keep all of them.
The depth at linebacker could also lead to the Cowboys having to part with a player they'd like to keep. They added Justin Durant to a starting group with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, while Alex Albright also figures to get some reps. They also signed Ernie Sims to a one-year deal before bringing on Durant, drafted DeVonte Holloman and brought on prized undrafted free agent Brandon Magee. [embedded_ad]
The competition carries to the offensive side, where very few young players have any guarantees. Receivers like Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and Danny Coale will need to earn their jobs once again. The same goes for running backs Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner.
Ronald Leary could challenge for playing time at guard, and the Cowboys need to see if David Arkin is finally ready to take the next step in his development.
All of the competitions will undoubtedly leave the Cowboys with more than a few tough decisions, particularly when considering the surprises that will undoubtedly occur when the pads come on in training camp. Putting together a final 53-man roster won't be easy.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 53:
- The Cowboys had the No. 53 pick in back-to-back drafts in 1973 and 1974, and in back-to-back seasons the Cowboys snagged Pro Bowl players. They selected defensive end Harvey Martin in 1973 and quarterback Danny White in 1973 with the 53rd overall picks.
- Dallas has owned the No. 53 overall pick in the draft seven times, also using that pick on quarterback Quincy Carter in 2001 and tight end Anthony Fasano in 2006.
- Mark Stepnoski, a mainstay on the line during the Cowboys' early-90s Super Bowl runs, wore the No. 53 during his career, in addition to the No. 70. Other notable players to wear the number include center Mike Connelly and linebacker Bob Breunig.
- The three most rushing attempts in a game against the Cowboys all belong to the Giants. The most attempts against the Cowboys came in 1976, when the Giants ran the ball 53 times against Dallas.
- Quarterbacks Danny White and Troy Aikman both hold the record for the team's most passing attempts in a playoff game with 53. White set the mark against the Rams in 1983, while Aikman set it in 1995 against San Francisco.
- Running back Tony Dorsett also holds the third longest run from scrimmage in a playoff game for the Cowboys, darting for 53 yards against the Rams in January 1979.