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 66 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the wide receiver position:
66) Can RB Randle Display Necessary, Expected Toughness?
* *In 1966, the Cowboys drafted a running back from Oklahoma State in the fifth round. In 2013, the Cowboys went the same route again, taking an OSU back in the fifth.
Same position, same round and same school. And that's probably where the similarities end between Walt Garrison and Joseph Randle.
Garrison is one of the toughest players in Cowboys history. It's only fitting he played for Oklahoma State and then Dallas because he was considered a "true cowboy," participating in rodeo competition and his signing bonus consisted of a horse trailer.
He played with a cracked collarbone in the 1970 Championship Game and a badly-injured ankle, which gave him instant fame and credibility for being a warrior on the field.
So enter Randle, who comes to the Cowboys via the same route. In fact, his thumb injury requires him to a wear a cast on his right wrist. That injury kept him out of drills in the last minicamp and it will be interesting to see what the Cowboys allow him to do in the upcoming minicamps. While Randle might seem ready to participate in everything, it's likely the training staff will limit his work, staying on the cautious side like they did with Morris Claiborne last summer.
Obviously Randle is in a different era than Garrison in regards to treating injuries. The investment of players is more substantial and structured so you won't see players battling in the game with severe injuries like we saw in Garrison's era.
Still, there is a toughness element all backs need. There is a short lifespan on NFL backs simply because of the beating their bodies take on a weekly basis. [embedded_ad]
While Randle won't be asked to play through a broken ankle or collarbone, or even a thumb injury, his toughness will be on display from the start.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 66:
- The Cowboys have had 15 players wear the No. 66 jersey. The more prominent was defensive end George Andrie, who wore it from 1962-72. Others who have donned 66 include Kevin Gogan, Burton Lawless and Tank Johnson.
- Jay Ratliff started his career in No. 66 in 2005 before eventually switching to No.90.
- The Cowboys finished 10-3-1 in the 1966 season and lost a heartbreaker to the Packers in the NFL Championship Game, 34-27.
- The 1966 draft produced more than just Walt Garrison in the fifth round. Guard John Niland (fifth overall) became one of the best interior linemen in Cowboys history, making six Pro Bowls (1968-73).
- Miles Austin caught 66 passes last season in 2012, which has been considered a down year. He still came up just short of 1,000 yards (943) and had six touchdowns.