By Matthew Postins
Now that the Dallas Cowboys have three preseason games under their belts, let’s revisit the Final 53, our look at whom we believe will make the opening-day roster as of Aug. 20:
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Kyle Orton
Who misses cut? Nick Stephens, Alex Tanney
Update: We’ll see how much playing time Stephens gets against Cincinnati on Saturday. Tanney played the whole second half and showed flashes of starting to “get it” when it comes to the offense. My guess is that Stephens will get a full half against Cincinnati to show what he can do as the Cowboys assess whether they keep a third quarterback or put either Stephens or Tanney on the practice squad.
Running back (4): DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner.
Who misses cut? Kendial Lawrence.
Update: Lance Dunbar’s ankle injury puts a damper on his great progress this offseason. But it doesn’t, in my opinion, mean the Cowboys will cut him. His roster spot is not in danger, unless his injury is deemed more serious. Even then he’ll be moved to injured reserve. It does open reps for the other backups and clears the path for Randle to assume the No. 2 role.
Wide receivers (6): Anthony Armstrong, Miles Austin, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris, Terrance Williams.
Who misses cut? Anthony Amos, Tim Benford, Danny Coale, Jared Green, Eric Rogers.
Update: Little has changed here, though Harris had a nice game against Arizona (his punt fumble notwithstanding). I don’t think that impacts the pecking order that much, though. The Cowboys envision three-wide sets with Bryant and Williams on the outside stretching defenses while Austin works the slot. Harris and Beasley – assuming he recovers from his foot injury – would spell Austin. Armstrong would work the outside to spell Bryant or Williams. It’ll take an injury for anyone to lose a spot at this point.
Tight ends (4): Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, Dante Rosario, Jason Witten.
Who misses cut? Colin Cochart, Andre Smith.
Update: Little has changed here. Rosario is the wild card. He could lose out in a numbers game at other positions. But Witten, Hanna and Escobar are locked in.
Offensive line (9): (Center) Travis Frederick, Phil Costa; (Guard) David Arkin, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ron Leary, Nate Livings; (Tackle) Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, Tyron Smith.
Who misses cut? Ryan Cook, Kevin Kowalski, Ray Dominguez, Dennis Godfrey, Demetress Bell, Darrion Weems.
Update: The Dallas Cowboys have sure made it sound like they’ve settled on a starting five – left tackle Smith, left guard Leary (assuming he’s healthy), center Frederick, right guard Bernadeau and right tackle Free. The dearth of tackles on this team means Parnell’s job as backup is safe. Arkin has played well enough to earn a spot as a backup guard. Costa makes this team as Frederick’s primary backup. That leaves Livings, who is still on the shelf. After having his knee scoped on Aug. 2 it was believed he would be back anywhere from two to four weeks afterward. We’re in Week 3. So we’ll see. Kowalski is back and he was catching the staff’s eye before his injury. He now has two games to make up ground. Two things to consider. First, are the Cowboys comfortable enough with nine linemen or will they keep 10? Second, will they go outside the current roster to sign a tackle after the first or second set round of cuts, a position where they are desperate for depth?
Defensive line (9): DE George Selvie, DE Anthony Spencer, DE DeMarcus Ware, DE Kyle Wilber; DT Ben Bass, DT Jason Hatcher, DT Nick Hayden, DT Sean Lissemore, DT Jay Ratliff.
Who misses cut? DE Landon Cohen, DE Jabari Fletcher, DE Thaddeus Gibson, DE Cameron Sheffield, DE Monte Taylor, DT Jerome Long, DT Jeris Pendleton.
Update: It’s doubtful we’ll see Ratliff before the season opener, so count on the Dallas Cowboys keeping an extra lineman as insurance. The group on the cut list hasn’t done enough to crack the Final 53. The Cowboys announced that they’re waiving Travis Chappelear and Toby Jackson, both of which were hurt last week. This list also does not include Tyrone Crawford, who will be moved to injured reserve soon.
Linebacker (6): WLB Bruce Carter, SLB Justin Durant, SLB DeVonte Holloman, MLB Sean Lee, WLB Brandon McGee, LB Ernie Sims.
Who misses cut? SLB Alex Albright, LB Deon Lacey, LB Cameron Lawrence, LB Caleb McSurdy, LB Taylor Reed.
Update: Albright is now out for the season and faces back surgery for a herniated disc. He wasn’t a good match for his position, in my opinion, based on his overall size. I had him on my cut list last week. But at least now the Dallas Cowboys can keep him and try him again next year. The player that might benefit from the extra playing time the most is Reed, who has flashed nicely in camp. Sims’ injury situation, as minor as it is, bears watching. Holloman has done enough, in my opinion, to be Durant’s primary backup on the strong side.
Defensive backs (10): CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, CB Sterling Moore, CB Orlando Scandrick, CB B.W. Webb, S Will Allen, S Barry Church, S Matt Johnson, S Danny McCray, S J.J. Wilcox.
Who misses cut? CB Xavier Brewer, CB Devin Smith, CB Brandon Underwood, S Eric Frampton, S Jakar Hamilton, S Jeff Heath, S Micah Pellerin.
Update: The Dallas Cowboys made a lot of hay about the progress of Hamilton and Heath last week. But can you see them keeping either player over Moore, Scandrick or Webb? I can’t. I still think that someone could lose the numbers game here. I’m just not sure which player could lose that game at this point.
Kicker (1): Dan Bailey
Who misses cut? None
Update: Bailey looks like he’s in midseason form. No worries from here.
Punter (1): Chris Jones
Who misses cut? None
Update: Jones is now unopposed on the roster.
Long snapper (1): L.P. Ladouceur
Who misses cut? None
Update: No competition, no worries.
Practice squad: Assuming the team cuts the players I believe they’ll cut and none of those players are not signed by other teams, here are the eight current Dallas Cowboys players I see making the Practice Squad:
QB Tanney, RB Lawrence, WR Rogers, DB Hamilton, LB Reed, OL Dominguez, LB McSurdy, OT Weems.
We’ll revisit the Final 53 next week, after the Cowboys face the Cincinnati Bengals.