In the fifth, and final part of our week one preseason series on a projected 53 man roster, Brian joins Paul in going deep on the defensive line and takes a new approach to full back – J.C. Copeland as a running back / fourth tight end. And as always, check out the first four parts of the week one staff projections: Mike Harlos – Jonathan Day – Christopher Mak – Tarheel Paul.
No need for a lot of talk here, Romo is the man. Weeden is proving what he can do with a good offensive line blocking for him. Caleb Hanie has shown why he’s been in the league as a backup for a few years now, but he isn’t going to be here in Dallas. Dustin Vaughan keeps improving; he could find himself a spot on the practice squad.
Murray and Dunbar – of course – are the locks of this group. I was rather surprised to see them keep Dunbar out of the first game, and it wasn’t because he was hurt. The coaches kept him out like they did the rest of the important pieces to the offense.
Randle has shocked me, there I said it. And I’ve said from the start of the offseason that Randle would have to become a special teams demon or just turn it up a notch as a running back to make this team, and I didn’t think he would or could do either. Turns out that he might not have reached demon status in special teams (he has improved greatly) yet, but he sure has taken it up a notch in his overall game as a running back. Ryan Williams would have been a nice story had he been able to beat out Randle, but as of right now, Randle could be making a push for carries when the games start to mean something.
Copeland’s biggest competition isn’t from Tyler Clutts for the full back position, his competition is going to come from another position – tight end. Jason Garrett has never been afraid to keep an extra tight end over a fullback, and that could be the case again this year.
No real big surprises here, although at one point I thought of keeping up to six WRs. LaRon Byrd and Dezmon Briscoe would have had a good shot at one of the last WR spots on the roster but because of injury on the defensive side of the ball, it just won’t happen. However, do look for Chris Boyd – the undrafted rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt – to make the practice squad, along with Jamar Newsome.
So far in camp and in the first preseason game, both Hanna and Escobar have shown drastic improvement in their run blocking. And Jason Witten is being Jason Witten.
Two questions with this group:
- Who’s the starting left guard?
- Who’s the backup tackle?
Bernadeau has the lead so far at the starting left guard spot, and the swing tackle is still up in the air, although I will give the edge to Weems. Versatility is the name of the game here. Bernadeau has shown he can play center and Martin can play either tackle position. I think Jermey Parnell has reached his ceiling and a younger, cheaper player like Weems – who is already at the same talent-level – gets the nod as the new swing tackle.
Anthony Spencer DE
George Selvie DE
Jeremy Mincey DE
Tyrone Crawford DE/DT
Henry Melton DT
Kenneth Bishop DT
Davon Coleman DT
Terrell McClain DT
Caesar Rayford DE
Ken Boatright DE
DeMarcus Lawrence DE
Going deep on the D-line here. Some of the reasoning behind that being injuries to some of the players now, and the team wanting to keep sending in fresh players to rush the QB later. It basically means it will be the deepest position on the team. A surprise name not on the list is Nick Hayden. He was pushed all over the place in the Charger game and that was pretty much what we saw out of him last season. He has a cool nickname, but I would rather have younger guys with more upside on the team. Would love to have seen what Ben Gardner could have done, and hopefully we still might get that chance, but as of right now he will go on the practice squad.
Justin Durant MLB/OLB
Rolando McClain MLB
Anthony Hitchens MLB/OLB
Bruce Carter OLB
Kyle Wilber OLB
DeVonte Holloman OLB
Will Smith OLB
The only tough choice I had here was picking between Will Smith and Cameron Lawrence. Smith adds more speed and athleticism, even though Lawrence has the experience. This pick could change a time or two before it’s all said and done.
I feel they keep six here, mainly because of Orlando Scandrick’s suspension. They need someone to cover the slot while he’s gone and I sure wouldn’t leave that to one of the safeties. Mitchell has shown enough promise and Webb has improved enough from last season to give them both an edge over their competition.
Strong Safety/Free safety
Barry Church SS
J.J. Wilcox FS
Jeff Heath FS
Ahmad Dixon SS
Jakar Hamilton FS
Even though Jakar Hamilton as shown some versatility in training camp, covering the slot if asked, I don’t feel it’s enough. However, with suspension to Scandrick , Hamilton still makes the team for now. Heath is a special teams demon and he can cover, he just has to locate the ball better. Ahmad Dixon had the reputation of being around the ball and knocking the slobber out of people when he was drafted out of Baylor, and he lived up to that reputation in the first preseason game. When a player goes from fighting for a spot on the team, to running plays with the first and second team in a week’s time, I think he’s a lock to make the team.
Dan “Got’em” Bailey
There’s my 53, like it or not? Comment below and let me know. You can also send me your thoughts on Twitter: @bleatherman2011