It’s the second-to-last edition of the nation’s best Cowboys roster prediction. I was going to do it yesterday but wanted to wait and see what happened with Andre Gurode first. Between that development and the Martellus Bennett injury, there are some new wrinkles to consider. As always, feedback is welcome and encouraged!
QB: Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee (3)
Previous: Romo, Kitna, Mcgee
Obvious? Yes, good…on we go!
RB: Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray, Phillip Tanner (3)
Prev: Jones, Murray, Lonyae Miller, Tanner
There’s a ripple effect caused by the Martellus Bennett injury and this is one of the impacted areas. Bennett missing time means John Phillips needs to play more tight end, which means he’s not there to play fullback. Now you not only need to hang on to Martin Rucker for tight end depth, but you need a guy like Shaun Chapas or Chris Gronkowsk to play the fullback spot. Boys and girls, that’s how Martellus Bennett’s ankle cost Tashard Choice or Lonyae Miller a job.
FB: Shaun Chapas
Chapas was in on some nice blocks during the last preseason game. Those may have been the exception rather than the rule, but maybe the rookie is starting to find his groove. With the scenario I discussed above and the need for a true fullback, it might make sense to give Chapas a few weeks in the regular season for a final chance to make good on the draft pick.
WR: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris, Jesse Holley, Raymond Radway (5)
Prev: Austin, Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Harris, Radway
Don’t think I’m overreacting to Holley’s big game against the Vikings. It’s a factor in the decision to cut Ogletree, but I’m basing it even more on the way they’ve totally hidden Dwayne Harris from view since the first preseason game. I think they’ve found a receiver who will see plenty of time in Harris and have been letting Ogletree, Holley, and Manny Johnson battle for a spot. Holley is the best special-teamer and that could get him the job on its own, but his offensive play last week probably sealed the deal. Radway still makes it as the raw talent prospect.
TE: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips, Martin Rucker (4)
Prev: Witten, Bennett, Phillips
It will only be for a few weeks, but Rucker makes the squad thanks to Bennett’s ankle. Once all three tight ends are healthy then it’ll probably come down to either he or Chapas as to who stays on the team.
OT: Doug Free, Tyron Smith, [Free Agent], Young (4)
Prev: Free, Smith, [FA], Young
Honestly, I still have no idea about Young or Parnell. They’ll probably be my most intensely-watched players during the final preseason game. Hopefully some of the money freed up from releasing Gurode will go to a quality backup.
G/C: Kyle Kosier, David Arkin, Phil Costa, Bill Nagy, Kevin Kowalski (5)
Prev: Andre Gurode, Kosier, Arkin, Nagy, Costa
Toward the end of last week I wrote about how the young talent on the line would makes 2011 Gurode’s last year as a Cowboy. I was right about the warning signs but obviously I underestimated how quickly they’d manifest. I may be wrong about Kowalski being kept, seeing as how they decided to dump Gurode before we saw him play in the Minnesota game. But Kowalski looked pretty good out there, and if Costa and Nagy are the starters than it would make more sense to keep Kowalski as a reserve center and Arkin as the swing guard. Holland could still make it, but the numbers really make it tough.
DE: Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore, Clifton Geathers (5)
Prev: Spears, Coleman, Hatcher, Lissemore, Geathers
Spears is saying he’ll be ready to go for Week One, and if that’s true then I think Igor Olshansky gets cut. It wouldn’t make much sense for the team to cut a starter in Gurode and and then a week later hold on to Igor as a backup. However, is Spears isn’t as healthy as he claims then Olshansky might stick around for a while and push Geathers to the practice squad.
DT: Jay Ratlif, Josh Brent (2)
Prev: Ratliff, Brent
There’s really nothing to talk about here. I wonder if they’re starting to worry about the ease with which opponents are running on us. I can’t help but go back to my “Ratliff is too small for NT” argument whenever I see it.
OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Alex Albright (4)
Prev: Ware, Spencer, Butler, Brandon Williams, Albright
A numbers crunch and a lack of production send Williams packing in this new installment. He’s always been talked about as a high-potential guy, but it has NEVER shown up on the field. He rode the injury excuse for a while, but now he’s healthy and he’s getting outplayed by Butler and even Albright. Time to go.
ILB: Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, Kenwin Cummings (4)
Prev: James, Brooking, Lee, Cummings
Just a reminder; Carter doesn’t appear in the prediction because he’ll start the year on the PUP list. When he comes back, it will be interesting to see who the fall guy is. There may not need to be one as someone will likely have gone to IR by Week 6 and Carter would just slide into their spot. But if everyone is healthy, could Brooking perhaps get cut to make room?
CB: Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Alan Ball, Mario Butler (5)
Prev: Newman, Jenkins, Scandrick, Ball, Butler
I saw all I need to of Josh Thomas in the last game to know he’s not worth fighting for. These five guys are your “if healthy” corners. If Newman or Jenkins isn’t quite ready, then it will be interesting to see what they do. Thomas or McCann could make it, but perhaps Owusu-Ansah could play some corner in a pinch. They’ll be looking for an excuse to keep him.
S: Gerald Sensabaugh, Abram Elam, Barry Church, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Danny McCray (5)
Prev: Sensabaugh, Elam, Church, Owusu-Ansah, McCray
AOA remains one of the big question marks right now. He’s a mid-round pick with raw skills they want to groom, but he also came here before Rob Ryan. There’s a chance Ryan doesn’t see the point in keeping him and overrules Campo and whoever else is a supporter. If he’s a good enough corner that they think he can at least give what Thomas or McCann would, then he’ll stick around. Otherwise, that’s a roster spot that could be used in several other spots on the team.
ST: Shayne Graham, Matt McBriar, L.P. Ladouceur (3)
Prev: David Beuhler, McBriar, Ladouceur
Kicker, kicker… who’s the kicker? Right now I’m going with Shayne Graham, but this one’s going down to the wire between all three guys. Now there are even reports that they’re trying out Dave Rayner and maybe some other kickers. Obviously they don’t like the current crop, so who’s left standing come final cuts is a pretty big mystery right now.