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 2011 and place-kicker Dan Bailey.
College: Oklahoma State
Cowboys Tenure: 2011-present
Why Him? The Cowboys have had some good kickers over the years, but an argument can be made if this franchise has truly ever had a great kicker. Of course, there are names to throw out there, but for the most part, kickers have come and gone around here. So even though Dan Bailey has just one year under his belt, it was good enough for this team. Is he the most accomplished place-kicker in franchise history? Of course not. He's not even in the top five. But that's not always the point. Bailey had a superb rookie season, especially considering the circumstances of beating out four other kickers during training camp. Think about that part as well. The Cowboys went with Bailey for his upside, knowing that more experienced kickers were available. It worked out for them last year as Bailey made four game-winning field goals, along with another clutch kick in San Francisco that forced overtime. He also made 26 consecutive field goals, the most by any Cowboys rookie, which tied him for the second-longest streak in Cowboys history.
The Role:For a team like this, who needs to kick a lot of field goals? Still, Bailey showed last year that he could be clutch when it mattered most. That type of player is always needed, especially at the kicker position. Bailey will be the place-kicker for field goals and extra points, but he'll also serve as the kickoff specialist. That's not exactly his forte, but the Cowboys stuck with him last year and he improved as the season progressed. Even though the kickoff spot has been moved up to the 35-yard line, Bailey didn't always drive the ball through the end zone but he was rather productive.
Back To The Future: This space has typically been reserved for players on the current roster with a shot, whether realistic or not, to someday fill the shoes of the listed player. In this case, with Bailey only entering his second year and not another place-kicker on the roster, the future is now with Bailey. The Cowboys are excited about his chances of becoming a great kicker with room to improve as a kickoff specialist.