So is it Kyle Wilbur, or Kyle Wilber? Perhaps Willber? Wilburrer? Can you use it in a sentence? Part of speech, please?
Half the meth-heads in Philly can spell Heisenberg, but some of the most staunch Cowboys faithful aren’t yet familiar enough with this 3-year vet to spell his surname with certainty.
Such is common in Football Purgatory, where Wilber found himself most of last year’s disastrous defensive campaign. Often hurt and seldom noticed, he was a sizable hole in an ongoing Swiss-cheese defensive horror show that we watched through our fingers in the fetal position.
Fourth round bust, carve it in stone. Yep, that’s what we had here, a career hanging by a Nike thread. Forgettable at linebacker in the 3-4, and a mere pothole at defensive end in the 4-3. That was Wilber, one foot already in that nowhere known as NFL Journeymanland, ducking the Turk in the hallways at Valley Ranch.
Then came a late afternoon in New Jersey. Wilber materialized from thin air at outside linebacker against the Giants, and suddenly, he looked like an NFL player. It felt like a midseason draft pick.
Whatever the reason – ongoing failures, mounting injuries to the team, panic and desperation, or all of the above – the coaches’ relegation worked, and Wilber’s light bulb caught a flicker. Confidence and pace are unmistakable when a player finds his feet, and that day the hesitancy seemed to fade away.
Not enough to quell the mystery, mind you. The Demon Deacon remains a puzzle wrapped in an enigma to most fans, including the one penning this read, and I’m not sure if he arrived or if he just stood out among the vagrants passing through. I really, really, really hope it was the former. And I think it might be.
This team needs a Dixon Edwards or Mike Hegman to lock down a spot in quietude. I so much want to take Wilber for granted like I did those guys in their day. Good teams rely on steady supporting casts, even more so than flash and dash. You know the kind.
Still, idle fan and media chatter seldom finds Wilber. It invariably frequents the likes of Lee and Carter and McClain and Durant. Even Holloman and the rookies are getting blind pub for plays not yet made. Little is made of Wilber, though he’s bucking for a starting nod as much as anyone. The coaches know better, thankfully.
That’s gotta happen – Wilber locking down a starting job – for this defense to re-legitimize. He needs to fully arrive, not as a hopeful, but as a sturdy presence that Dallas can count on, so it can cast its worries elsewhere. There just aren’t enough of those known cats on defense, especially at linebacker.
There’s already a battle in the middle left by yet another injury to Sean Lee. Marinelli’s pet cat (in case you’re reading, Jerry) seems to be rebuilding Bruce Carter into what he was, before he wasn’t. This corps begs for a steady hand at one of the three stations, and my hopes are with Wilber. I just don’t get the warm-and-fuzzies over Justin Durant playing there.
So it’s Wilber, with an “e”. Lest we have good reason not to forget it.