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Roster Rundown: Can Spencer Repeat Performance Under Tag?


*(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers have taken a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Roster Rundown concludes today with defensive end Anthony Spencer.) * 

Name: Anthony Spencer
Position: Defensive End
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 250
Experience: 6 seasons
College: Purdue

Key stat:Spencer had a career season in 2012, registering 11 sacks. He also led the Cowboys in tackles with 106 stops, also a career-best.

Contract Status:Signed through 2013 on a franchise-tag tender of $10.63 million.

How He Played In 2012: The Cowboys couldn't have dreamed Spencer would have the season he did. If they had, they probably would've tried to work out a long-term deal before giving him the $8.8 million franchise tender. Spencer didn't lead the team in sacks, but his 11 were just short of DeMarcus Ware's 11.5. In fact, Spencer arguably had more impactful plays on defense, getting late-game sacks against Carolina and Cincinnati and he had a huge sack and forced fumble against Cleveland. Spencer did lead the defense with 106 tackles, and ranked second in tackles for loss (eight), quarterback pressures (26) and forced fumbles (two). Spencer was rewarded for his best season by being named to the Pro Bowl.

Where He Fits: After Spencer's Pro Bowl game, there was thought he may not wear the Cowboys' helmet again, considering he was an unrestricted free agent. However, the Cowboys decided to franchise Spencer again, this time for $10.63 million. And with the defense switching to a 4-3 scheme, it appears Spencer will again have a role with this Cowboys' defense, which is now led by Monte Kiffin. Spencer played 4-3 defensive end in college at Purdue. He might have to add a few pounds of muscle to hold up more against the run, but the Cowboys will continue to ask Spencer do what he does best  - and that's rush the quarterback and create disruption in the backfield. 

Writers' Analysis: [embedded_ad]

Rowan Kavner: Spencer was the Cowboys' pass rush late last season, particularly after DeMarcus Ware played injured. His quarterback takedowns seemed to always happen at opportune times late in games as the Cowboys mounted their weekly comebacks. After a season with a career-high 11 sacks and leading the team with a combined 106 tackles, Spencer will now shift his focus toward playing more with his hand on the ground as a defensive end. How he and Ware handle the defensive switch could determine the success of the defense. As it stands, Spencer will be playing on his second straight franchise tag. If the tag gave him any sort of incentive to step his play up last year, the Cowboys must hope the same can happen again.

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