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 54 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on defensive end depth.
54) Is Bruce Carter Really To Elevate Game To Next Level?
The Cowboys had too many injuries to count last year, especially to key players. At one point, seven defensive starters were on the shelf. But while injuries to key players are rarely a good thing, there was one positive aspect to Sean Lee's toe injury in October.
It opened the door for Bruce Carter to shine and for a few weeks last year, he did just that. Of course, Carter's season ended early, too. A dislocated elbow injury on Thanksgiving cut his season short, but not before he showed that he might be ready to jump his game to the next level.
If the Cowboys can get elevated play from both Carter and Lee this year, the defense might be ready to take off as well.
The Cowboys are of course moving to a 4-3 scheme, but that will be an even greater advantage for Carter, who played the scheme at North Carolina.
"I was so excited about the move," Carter said recently. "I thought I picked up the 3-4 pretty well. But I'm a lot more comfortable in the 4-3. It doesn't matter if I played outside or inside, I think this is a better scheme for Sean and myself."
Carter finished with 80 tackles last year, good for third on the team and led the defense with nine tackles for loss.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 54:
- The Cowboys have two players who have worn No. 54 who are currently in the Ring of Honor. Randy White is a Hall of Fame player who made nine Pro Bowls and is considered one of the most dominating defensive tackles in league history.
- Chuck Howley also wore No. 54 and remains the only player in Super Bowl history to win MVP honors from the losing team. Howley made All-Pro six times, but is remembered more for his performance against the Colts in Super Bowl V.
- While Billy Cundiff holds the Cowboys' record for longest field goal with a 56-yarder in 2005, three other players are tied for second with 54-yard kicks. Toni Fritsch (1972), Ken Willis (1991) and Richie Cunningham (1998) all drilled 54-yarders in their career.
- The Cowboys have had a few players drafted 54th overall but have yet to produce a star from the spot. Linebackers Darrin Smith (1993) and Jeff Rohrer (1982) and quarterback Glenn Carano (1977) were all taken at No. 54.