The Cowboys are finding out the hard way that there is some real merit to the old football saying that the best ability is availability.
Sean Lee has played in just 82 of a possible 121 games since being drafted in 2010, Dan Bailey's 106 consecutive games played streak came to an end this season when he suffered a groin injury, Tyron Smith just sat out his fourth game in last two seasons, and Ezekiel Elliott will sit out at least four games - and very likely six - this season.
When the Cowboys let Morris Claiborne walk after the 2016 season, they let him walk in part because of a track record of missing games due to injury: Claiborne played in just 43 of a possible 80 regular season games while in Dallas. Of course, they also let Brandon Carr walk, who played (and started!) in his 163rd consecutive game last weekend, which just goes to show that availability by itself is not a guarantee for an NFL contract - unless you're the QB of the Giants.
All of which, in a roundabout way, brings us to the six Cowboys with the most consecutive regular season games played, the iron men of the Dallas Cowboys, if you will.
No. 5: Byron Jones and Damien Wilson are tied at No. 5 and have each played in 41 consecutive games so far since being drafted in 2015. This is quite impressive, considering that both players play at particularly injury-prone positions. The NFL safety with the fifth-most consecutive games played has 56, the linebacker with the fifth-most consecutive games played has 73, so both Jones and Wilson still have a ways to go before they crack the Top 5.
Up until recently, Anthony Hitchens would have been ahead of Jones and Wilson on this iron man list, but a tibial plateau fracture that kept him out of the first four games this year ended his consecutive games played streak at 48.
No. 4: Zack Martin has played and started in every single game since being drafted in 2014, bringing his number of consecutive games played to 57. Only four guards in the NFL have played in more consecutive games (Andy Levitre: 137, Zane Beadles: 122, John Jerry: 94, David DeCastro: 65)
No. 2: Travis Frederick and the underrated Terrance Williams are tied at No. 2 on this list. Both have played in every one of the 73 possible regular season games since being drafted. Frederick ranks No. 2 among all centers behind only Tennessee's Ben Jones, while Williams ranks fifth among all wide receivers (Eric Weems: 143, Demaryius Tomas: 100; Golden Tate: 88, Doug Baldwin: 81)
No. 1: Jason Witten is in his 15th season with the Cowboys and has played in a team-record 227 consecutive games out of a possible 231 games in his career, missing just one game due to a broken jaw against Arizona (10/5/03). That's currently the second-longest streak among all active NFL players behind only Texans punter Shane Lechler (247).
Jerry Jones: "Ability is availability." Doesn't matter how talented you are, if you're not on the field, you're not helping us— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 25, 2016
@bwebster pointed out that L.P. Ladouceur should be No. 2 on this list with 198 consecutive games played.
And a similar oversight: Punter Chris Jones has played in every game since 2013, bringing his consecutive games total to 73.