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 59 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on one of the Cowboys' linebackers:
59) Can Ernie Sims Find A Role On Defense After Filling In Admirably Last Season?
The Cowboys brought Sims back in 2013 after joining the team midway through last season and quickly becoming a starting contributor at linebacker.
Sims didn't play a down of football last year until the end of October. After various injuries, particularly the toe injury to Sean Lee, the Cowboys needed free agents to come in and contribute immediately. Sims answered that call as well as anyone.
It's going to be more difficult to find an obvious role for Sims this year.
His first goal has to be making the squad. Lee and Bruce Carter are both healthy again as the Cowboys make the switch to the 4-3, and it seems Justin Durant and Alex Albright are the likeliest candidates to play the strong side linebacker spot.
Sims might fit better as a backup at weak side linebacker, but he could compete for playing time at any of the linebacker spots. The Cowboys felt good enough about his play last year that he deserves another shot this year to prove himself to a different group of defensive coaches.
If nothing else, the former first-round pick gives the Cowboys a quick linebacker to add depth at a position that could use as many healthy bodies as possible.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 59:
- Linebacker Darrin Smith wore the No. 59 as the Cowboys enjoyed their Super Bowl success in the mid-'90s. He was one of the speediest linebackers in the league and started four years in Dallas. Other players to wear the jersey include Guy Brown, who wore it from 1977-82, and defensive lineman Don Smerek, from 1981-87.
- Kicker Rafael Septien holds the team record for most points after touchdown with 59, set in 1980. He attempted 60 that season. Sticking with kickers, the longest field goal made by an opponent against the Cowboys came from Philadelphia's Tony Franklin, who nailed a 59-yarder in 1979.
- The Cowboys have never scored more than 59 points in a game. They scored exactly 59 points against Detroit in 1968 and against San Francisco in 1980.
- Just a few years back, the Cowboys notched 59 sacks in the 2008 season. That was good for the third most in franchise history.