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 for each season.
Not so much the 53 best players in club history, DallasCowboys.com 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 2002 and safety Roy Williams:
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 230
Why Him? For about a four-year period, Williams was among the NFL's most dynamic and feared safeties. The 2002 eighth overall pick spent his rookie season learning under Cowboys all-time leading tackler Darren Woodson. When a back injury wiped out Woodson's final season in 2004, Williams inherited leadership of the defensive secondary. He went on to make five Pro Bowls with trademark vicious hits and a knack for clutch plays, including a clinching interception return for a touchdown in 2005 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Williams tallied 611 tackles, 56 pass breakups, 19 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 6.5 sacks over seven seasons in Dallas. The Cowboys waived him in the spring of 2009 coming off a 2008 season in which he appeared in only three games due to injury. His last three years drew increasing criticism of his pass coverage, but Williams should still be remembered as one of the more disruptive defenders in team history.
The Role: Williams' physical play – at times too physical, with the "horse collar" tackling penalty linked prominently to him – made him a force in the secondary for many years. For that, he has earned a backup strong safety spot on our Ultimate 53 roster. Williams entered the league in 2002 and immediately went under the wing of veteran Darren Woodson, who was winding up his spectacular career. Williams had a front-row seat when Woodson broke the Cowboys' all-time tackle record in a game against Seattle. For this team, he will play behind Woodson.
Back To The Future: Third-year veteran Barry Church has some similar attributes to Williams as a big, physical, box-type safety. He thrived on special teams in his first two seasons and will try to break into the starting lineup in 2012. Church was an undrafted free agent while Williams was the No. 8 overall pick in 2002. But their knack for the ball, playmaking ability without blazing speed would draw some easy comparisons.