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 63 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on finding veteran talent either just before, or during the season.
63) Can Pro Scouts Continue Finding Quality Veteran Fits
Just before the start of the regular season last September, the Cowboys made a surprising move – or at least one that wasn't on many radars – when they traded for seven-year veteran Ryan Cook, a versatile linemen who played guard and tackle, but had recently been working at center.
Cook played in the preseason finale against the Cowboys, as a member of the Dolphins. With Phil Costa dealing with a back issue and the Cowboys still not ready to play David Arkin, they sent a seventh-rounder to Miami for Cook, who was given the jersey No. 63.
A week later, Cook played all but three snaps against the Giants, filling in for Costa who went down on the third play when his back flared up again. Cook ended up playing 13 games and started 11 at center.
What a find for the Cowboys' pro scouting department. That shouldn't be a surprise considering what it did in 2011, picking up veterans Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Sammy Morris and Frank Walker. All four had key roles for the Cowboys, especially Robinson, who had 11 touchdown catches.
Last year, the Cowboys had to sign a few players off the street in Eric Frampton, Brian Moorman, Charlie Peperah and Ernie Sims, along with few others such as Anthony Armstrong, Brady Poppinga and Brian Schaefering.
The Cowboys were decimated by injuries in 2012 and forced to sign players out of need. But every season, there are holes to fill on a weekly basis.
The group of Judd Garrett, Will McClay, Henry Sroka and Alex Loomis, and overseen by scouting director Tom Ciskowski, have done a adequate job of getting the right players at the right time.
Obviously the Cowboys are hoping for a season with far less injuries, but if and when the time arrives to hit the free-agent market, will the Cowboys be ready once again?
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 63:
- The Cowboys have had 12 players wear the No. 63 jersey. The most prominent was defensive tackle Larry Cole, who wore it from 1968-80. Others who have donned 63 include John Gesek and Kyle Kosier.
- The first touchdown of the Bill Parcells era in 2003 came on a 63-yard run by running back Aveion Cason against the Falcons.
- Golden Richards produced the second-longest punt return in Cowboys postseason history with a 63-yard touchdown return against Minnesota in the 1973 NFC Championship Game. The Cowboys lost 27-10 with Richards scoring the only Dallas touchdown. [embedded_ad]
- In 1963, the Cowboys finished 4-10 with few statistical highlights. Cornell Green did have seven interceptions and punter Sam Baker made the Pro Bowl, along with tight end Lee Folkins and running back Don Perkins.
- The 1963 draft produced Ring of Honor linebacker Lee Roy Jordan as the No. 6 overall pick. Jordan anchored the defense for 14 seasons and earned five Pro Bowl selections.