The 53: Every Team Needs A Good Snapper


The most important part of each season may be the daily practice grind in July and August, when a team is truly built. As a countdown to this year's training camp, we celebrate the 53rd year of Cowboys football by constructing the team's all-time 53-man roster, picking one player from each season.

Not so much the 53 best players in club history, has constructed the ultimate team, filling out the depth chart and making room for contributors at every position, including special teams, while at the same time looking ahead to how this year's 53-man roster might shake out.

The series continues today with 2000 and long snapper Dale Hellestrae.

Name:Dale Hellestrae
Position: Long snapper
Height/Weight: 6-5/280
Cowboys Tenure: 1990-2000

Why Him?There are some positions that are obviously deemed more important than others. Certainly, spots such as quarterback and running back will always garner more praise. There are other positions on the field that mostly only get noticed when bad things happen. Kicker is one of those; deep snapper is another. For 11 seasons, Dale Hellestrae was one of the finest long snappers in the NFL, and certainly in Cowboys history. He was a three-year veteran when he joined the team in 1990. And for years, he was rock solid on punts, field goals and extra points. In his 11 years with the Cowboys, Hellestrae snapped for eight different place-kickers and seven punters, but the deep snapper stayed the same.

The Role: It's pretty simple here. Be darn near perfect for every snap and if there is a tackle or two per game to make on special teams, that'll be a bonus. This 53-man roster is obviously loaded with super stars, but it's still a team from top to bottom. If you tried to rank the Top 53 players of all time, Hellestrae's place on the list might be questioned. But an actual team needs a deep snapper and Hellestrae did it as well as anyone for more than a decade.

Back To The Future:While it's rather easy to anoint Hellestrae as one of, if not the greatest deep snappers in history, the Cowboys' current snapper shouldn't be too far behind. Now L.P. Ladouceur hasn't enjoyed anything close to the team success Hellestrae did in the '90s, but he's been just as solid in his snaps. Geography helped Ladouceur join the team in 2005 when the Cowboys were staying a week in California in between road games with the 49ers and Raiders. The club waived rookie Jon Condo after the 49ers game and needed a quick replacement. Ladouceur was in the area after finishing school at Cal-Berkley and played that week in Oakland. He hasn't missed a game since.

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