It might have seemed like Kyle Wilber turned into the forgotten draft pick for the Cowboys last year. Hand and thumb injuries left him unable to practice for much of the offseason and training camp as a rookie.
But he’s getting a chance to make himself seen now.
He’s getting first-team reps at right defensive end while DeMarcus Ware recovers from offseason surgery.
“Being behind D-Ware, I get taught by him every day, so I don’t really feel forgotten,” Wilber said. “He tries to make me better each and every day. Coach is always riding me, trying to make me the best player I can be. So I really don’t feel like a forgotten player.”
Not literally forgotten, of course. In fact, the Cowboys are encouraged by Wilber’s work. And Wilber is encouraged by their confidence in him.
“It seems like a perfect fit,” Wilber said of his position change. “My speed, getting up the field. In Chicago, Marinelli used small defensive ends, except for Peppers – you know, he was 300 pounds – but he used smaller-type defensive ends that are quick, can slant, do stunts real quick. That’s the type of game they were using. That’s the type of player I am.”
Wilber, taken in the fourth round last year out of Wake Forest as an outside linebacker, said he played at 240 last year, is 252 now and the Cowboys want him at 255.
He said he doesn’t remember how the injuries happened last year, but that it did set him back.
“It was very frustrating,” he said. “It’s just like a step ack. You can’t tell what you’re doing real well. You’re sitting around the bench. Can’t get better. You’re sitting there watching everybody do everything, and you can’t do anything.”
He said he can’t think about avoiding injuries. He has to continue to play like he always has.
“I’m not trying to get hurt, but I’m not going to be timid out there and not allow myself to get better,” he said. “Right now, it’s a great feeling to actually go through OTAs. Last year I didn’t go through OTAs. Now that I’m actually able to practice, E-ware is critiquing me every play, everything I’m doing, telling me look at my angle, look at how I’m attacking, look at my first step.
“Getting taught by DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
-- Carlos Mendez