Once the Cowboys complete their final 2 preseason games in Dallas, the coaching staff and scouting department will be making their final assessments on their 53 man roster on August 31st, just days before they face the world champion New York Giants in New York on September 5th.
All the players need to showcase their skills if they want to make this team vs. the St. Louis Rams this Saturday night, and then against the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday August 29th, both games being played at Cowboys Stadium.
This is just a prediction of how this team will shape up, and keep in mind, the bottom of the roster is always churning. With that being said, lets start with the Offense ..
2 Quarterbacks .. Tony Romo and Kyle Orton
4 Running Backs .. Demarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, and Jamize Olawale
1 Fullback .. Lawrence Vickers
6 Wide Receivers .. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, and Cole Beasley
3 Tight Ends .. Jason Witten, John Phillips, and James Hannah
3 Tackles .. Tyron Smith, Doug Free, and Jermey Parnell
4 Guards .. Nate Livings, MacKenzy Bernadeau, David Arkin, and Ron Leary
2 Centers .. Phil Costa, and ( Kevin Kowalski ) will be on PUP list for first 6 weeks
1 Kicker .. Dan Bailey
1 Long Snapper .. L.P. LaDouceur
Other possible candidates : G/T Pat McQuistan, TE Andrew Szczerba, WR Danny Coale, WR Tim Benford
I feel if RB Jamize Olawale is waived, he will not make it to the practice squad, he is a raw player that is still developing, but several of the other 31 teams will be willing to be patient if the Cowboys don’t. He has to make this roster. I am also very certain the Cowboys will be searching the waiver wire for wide receiver, and possibly help at #3 tight end, and center. Speaking of Centers, there have been talks that Kowalski will be placed on the PUP ( Physically Unable to Perform ) list, that will leave him off the roster for the first 6 weeks of the season, so this will possibly create another roster spot for a current player, or one on the waiver wire.
5 Defensive Ends .. Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore, Marcus Spears, Tyrone Crawford, and Ben Bass
2 Nose Tackles .. Jay Ratliff, and Josh Brent
5 Outside Linebackers .. DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Adrian Hamilton, and Kyle Wilber
4 Inside Linebackers .. Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Connor, and Alex Albright ( ILB & OLB )
5 Cornerbacks .. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, Mike Jenkins, and Mario Butler
4 Safeties .. Gerald Sensabaugh, Barry Church, Danny McCray, and Matt Johnson
1 Punter .. Chris Jones
Other possible candidates : DE Kenyon Coleman, FS Eddie Whitley, CB Teddy Williams, ILB Orie Lemon, FS/SS Mana Silva
CB Mike Jenkins may be placed on the PUP ( Physically Unable to Perform ) List that will cause him to miss the first 6 weeks of the season so he can continue rehabilitating his shoulder. If so, this could leave a roster spot open for a Teddy Williams, C.J. Wilson, or possibly a waiver wire candidate.
I am keeping DE Ben Bass and OLB Adrian Hamilton on this 53 man roster. Both players are rookie free agents that have shown promise this far in training camp, and both preseason games. Both are still developing, and just like Olawale, if either is released, they will not make it to the practice squad.
As far as this defense, I am not 100% satisfied with my depth at Safety, I like McCray, but mostly for special teams, and I selected Johnson because he was the best safety not starting on this roster, and a 4th round draft pick. I did however keep Butler because he has been playing CB and safety, they are trying to turn him into the next Alan Ball. Look for the Cowboys to search for better alternatives at Safety, and possibly a better Punter, I am not 100% sold on Jones either. I am also not satisfied with Jay Ratliff starting at NT, If the Cowboys could add a big bodied, young experienced nose tackle, Ratliff would be moving to End, and Spears would be cut, but we all know thats not going to happen.
As far as the practice squad, it is not uncommon for the Cowboys to add at least 1-3 players from other teams that were waived. But I am going to add 8 players from the Cowboys roster that has a significant chance of making it to the 2012 practice squad :
1. QB Rudy Carpenter ( this makes the most sense to add Carpenter to the P.S. since he still has 1 year of eligilibility and McGee has none, serving as a #3 QB for emergency purposes, and not taking up a roster spot at the same time ).
2. WR Danny Coale
3. WR Tim Benford
4. RB Lance Dunbar
5. NT Rob Callaway
6. OG Harland Gunn
7. FS Eddie Whitley
8. TE Andrew Szczerba
Other possible Candidates : OT Jeff Adams, ILB Orie Lemon, S Mana Silva
ILB Caleb McSurdy will be placed on Injured Reserve
This will be very interesting as the preseason winds down. I think the Cowboys will have a very good season once players like Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski, DeMarcus Ware, and Mike Jenkins fully recover from their injuries, and start playing again. I also have a feeling, barring any serious injuries, the Cowboys have a shot of advancing to the playoffs this season.