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Mailbag: 2-Year Development? Smith Wearing 73?

Mailbag--2-Year-Development--Smith-Wearing-73-hero

I understand the Cowboys have some numbers that they dedicate to great players at certain positions (88,94,etc.). But are you guys OK with Tyler Smith getting Larry Allen's 73? Shouldn't that number be in the rafters? – DARRYL CROSS / LARGO, FL

David: Officially, the Cowboys don't retire numbers, so there's no hard and fast rule about using them. In my time covering the team the only truly sacred numbers seem to be 8, 12 and 22. We've seen guys like Mackenzy Bernadeau and Joe Looney wear No. 73 in recent years, so I don't see why Tyler can't. Having said all of that, I do wonder if that's a little too much pressure to put on a 21-year-old kid who was just drafted at the same position. But Tyler doesn't seem to mind, so I'm not going to worry too much about it.

Rob: I don't think it's a big deal because other players have worn the number. The Cowboys haven't viewed 73 as off-limits, even though Larry Allen is arguably one of the top five players in franchise history. Giving it to Smith, first-round draft pick, does seem to symbolize how much they think of his potential – not to be Larry Allen, of course, but to eventually become a cornerstone of the offensive line. To me, Smith wearing 73 isn't much different than Dez Bryant wearing 88 in the past or CeeDee Lamb wearing it now.

What does this year's draft say to you about how the coaches and front office view the "developing" players? Doesn't it speak well of players like Josh Ball, Matt Farniok, Rico Dowdle and the secondary in general? – OLIVER NARRO / ARLINGTON, MA

David: We've heard nothing but praise from this coaching staff about the steps that Ball and Farniok are taking this offseason. To hear it from Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin, those guys never leave the facility. Rico Dowdle's recovery would do wonders for the depth at running back, as he definitely showed some promise in 2020. But we also know this is the season for optimism. We'll see how it all shakes out when the pads go on, but it would be a big boost for the depth of this team if they can get some real contributions from those second-and-third year players.

Rob: Yeah, I think they believe in all three players you mentioned. But there's always competition. The Cowboys just drafted two players who can fill the swing tackle role where Ball is a candidate (though he's going to start on the backup right side and Tyler Smith on the left).

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