Whelp. This it. This fourth preseason game is always intriguing to me. This is the absolute final call for guys that are on the bubble to make that last-minute push onto the active 53. While I think most coaching staffs around the league have already decided who is going to stick and who isn't – you seem to always have at least 1 player that goes out swinging in that final preseason game. So let's do this, shall we?
Defense (26 players)
Safety (4): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon, Free Agent
Jakar Hamilton has been suspended for the first 4 games of the season, forcing me to make a change. When I originally typed up this week's projection I had Hamilton in and Dixon on the practice squad. I think Dixon really has put himself in a hole here, but he may be the one player who can earn himself a spot on the roster tonight. But I could easily see them trying to sneak Dixon onto the practice squad and signing a low-rent veteran safety from another team's scrap-heap, or even a free agent off the streets to fill in (someone like Eric Frampton in the past).
Cornerback (5): Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, Terrance Mitchell, Sterling Moore
I had resisted the urge up until last week against the Dolphins, but Tyler Patmon will be on the active 53. He deserves it. That pick-6 was a thing of beauty! While it was a horrible play by Matt Moore, I went back and watched the play over and over again. Patmon saw that play coming a mile away and broke on the ball long before Moore even released it. After the game he credited that to film study. So you have to like that. And color me shocked that they cut B.W. Webb today. I actually thought he was showing improvement.
Outside Linebacker (3): Bruce Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kyle Wilber
With the unfortunate news about DeVonte Holloman coming down – it opened up a spot for Cameron Lawrence, who will make the team on his special teams ability alone.
Inside Linebacker (3): Justin Durant, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens
It's been the same 3 guys all along. But what's interesting now is we have no idea who the starter is going to be. Dallas surprised us all last week by starting Hitchens at MLB, Carter at SLB, and Durant at WLB. The only thing I “think” I can say for sure is that Carter and Durant are going to be starters. We just don't know where they are going to line up. Just get the 3 best players on the field please.
Defensive Line (11): Henry Melton DT, Terrell McClain DT, Davon Coleman DT, DeMarcus Lawrence DE, George Selvie DE, Jeremy Mincey DE, Tyrone Crawford DE/DT, Dartwan Bush DE, Ken Bishop DT, Anthony Spencer DE, Nick Hayden
Need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.
Offense (24 Players)
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
Dustin Vaughan is not making the 53. No way. I know some fellow writers here disagree but I'm fine with that. He has shown nothing to be deserving of a roster spot. Practice squad? Yes. Absolutely. I have no fears of another team snatching him up to add to their 53.
Running Back (5): DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Tyler Clutts
If Ryan Williams doesn't make this team then I will legitimately be pissed off. You can knock his pass protection and his lack of special teams prowess if you like, but he's just too good of a runner to cut loose. If you consider that Murray is in the last year of his contract and that he, as well as Dunbar, hasn't exactly been the most durable guy over his career, then to me it's case closed for Williams to make the team. And as much as I fought it, I went ahead and added FB Tyler Clutts. He's done nothing to really impress me but this offense will need a FB/Blocking TE at some point in the season. He may not be on the team at the end of season, but I think he makes the initial 53.
Wide Receiver (6): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street, LaRon Byrd
All off-season I was set on keeping 5 WRs. About halfway through camp I was forced to pay attention to guys like Jamar Newsome and LaRon Byrd. These two guys have treated the preseason like professional boxers – exchanging blow for blow. IF they keep 6 – and that's a huge if – I have to give the spot to Byrd at this point. Byrd is just in better physical condition right now to contribute on special teams. And that's what a 6th WR must do.
Tight End (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna
These 3 are on the team. The only question is whether or not they'll decide to add a 4th guy from another roster.
Offensive Line (8): Tyron Smith OT, Doug Free OT, Jermey Parnell OT, Travis “Fredbeard” C, Mackenzy Bernadeau G/C, Ron Leary G, Zack Martin G, Uche Nwaneri G
Same 8 guys. I think John Wetzel has made a case for himself but not enough of a case to take a roster spot on this team or any other team. I think he safely lands on the practice squad.
Special Teams (3 Players)
Dan MFN Baily K
LP French Canadian Daddy LS
Chris Jones P
Practice Squad (10 Players)
Zach Minter DT
Will Smith LB
Jamar Newsome WR
Jemea Thomas DB
Caesar Rayford DE/DT
Kenneth Boatright DE
Dustin Vaughan QB
Darrion Weems OT
Ronald Patrick C/G
John Wetzel G/T
I love the fact that they expanded the practice squad to 10 players. Every one of these guys deserves it.