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, 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 1993 and Erik Williams, a starting offensive tackle for The Ultimate 53.
Name: Erik Williams
Position: Offensive Tackle
College: Central State
Cowboys Tenure: 1991-2000
Why Him? A mammoth, physical player with the strength to overwhelm even the most vicious pass rushers, Williams in his prime was one of the most dominant offensive linemen in league history. He took over as a full-time starter in 1992, and the Cowboys promptly won back-to-back Super Bowls, Williams claiming an All-Pro and Pro Bowl nod in 1993. A car wreck that injured his knee knocked him out for most of the 1994 season, and while his recovery was a trying one, he still returned to make two more All-Pro teams and another three Pro Bowls, even after the league outlawed his devastating punch move.
The Role: Williams' aggressiveness and unique nasty streak made him a standout as both a run blocker and pass blocker at starting right tackle. While not the league's premier spot for offensive linemen, edge blockers on the right side are often on an island against top rushers, just like left tackles. Proof of that came in Williams' finest performance, against Philadelphia's Reggie White in 1992. He held the future Hall of Fame defensive end without a sack and won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the game, a 20-10 win in Week 9.
Back To The Future: The Cowboys have decided to flip their starting tackles from 2011, sliding Tyron Smith to the left side and bringing Doug Free back to the right. While Free excelled on the right side during his first taste of playing time, as a fill-in for Marc Colombo in 2009, he also played well on the left end in 2010. If he can regain some of the technique that escaped him last year, Free has a great shot to turn things around moving forward. While not as strong as Williams, he is perhaps more athletic, which should serve him well against the quick edge rushers teams will try to match up against him.