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Focusing On No. 96: Counting Down Days To Training Camp


IRVING, Texas – While the focus remains heavily on the draft and free agency, it won't be too long before the Cowboys report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

While schedules are always subject to change, the Cowboys are tentatively scheduled to report to California on July 19 with a first practice set for July 21.

It'll be a longer camp and preseason this year with the Cowboys playing five exhibition games, including the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. That pushes up the start date to camp, meaning the pads will be coming on before too long.

So as we count down the days to camp, let's take a light-hearted look at the significance of each number as we stroll through the years of Cowboys football.

Let's start the countdown, taking a closer look at the number 96:

  •  The only non-kicker since 2000 to lead the Cowboys in scoring for a season was Marion Barber, who had 96 points on 16 touchdowns during the 2006 season. Barber was a short-yardage and goal-line back, but found the end zone on 14 rushing scores and two by pass.
  • The only 96-yard touchdown in Cowboys' history came from defensive back Dennis Thurman, who had a 96-yard interception return against the Redskins in the 1981 season opener.
  • Twice in franchise history an opponent has returned a fumble exactly 96 yards and both have occurred in Philadelphia. Eagles lineman Joe Lavender had a 96-yard runback in 1974 and then Eagles' cornerback Joselio Hanson had a 96-yard touchdown return in the 44-6 blowout in 2008.
  • The first player to wear the No. 96 jersey was Daniel Stubbs, a first-round pick in 1985. That means the Cowboys went 30 years exactly without issuing that jersey number. Stubbs played just two years with the Cowboys but it was long enough to leave his mark in another. At the local Coppell Deli, a nearby family-owned restaurant that remains a favorite among the current players, one of the more popular breakfast sandwiches is named the "Stubbs Special" named after the defensive end.
  • The best player in franchise history to wear 96 is a close one. Ebenezer Ekuban was a first-round pick of the Cowboys in 1999 and played five seasons until 2003. Just like Ekuban, Marcus Spears was also the 20th overall pick, drafted in 2005. He wore 96 for most of his time with the Cowboys, with a short stint with the No. 98. But Spears and Ekuban didn't live up to their first-round expectations but are still arguably the two best players to wear the jersey.
  • The 1996 season saw the first-two way starter in the NFL since the mid-60's when Deion Sanders started both at cornerback and wide receiver. Sanders was an All-Pro at cornerback but also caught 36 passes for 475 yards and one touchdown at receiver.
  • The Cowboys saw a familiar face on the opposing sideline in a regular-season game in 1996. The Cowboys squared off against former coach Jimmy Johnson for the first time. Johnson took over the Dolphins, pitting a matchup against his replacement, Barry Switzer. The Cowboys steamrolled Miami, 29-10 for their fourth straight win. 
  • The Cowboys netted just 96 total yards of offense in a miserable 31-0 defeat to the Titans on Christmas night in 2000. With Anthony Wright starting the game at quarterback, the Cowboys limped to the finish line with a 5-11 record.
  • The 1996 season saw the Cowboys' single-season record for special teams tackles. Linebacker Jim Schwantz was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad after tallying 32 tackles in the kicking game.
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