We are 124 days from the Cowboys opening game against that team from New York. It's safe to say we know for sure about 40 something players that will be in Cowboys roster, but who will fill out the final 53 is really a guessing game at this point. And I like games. So here is a (very early) projection of the Cowboys final roster for week 1.
Tony Romo - Kyle Orton
No surprise here really. There was thought that Dallas could have used one of their picks on a developmental QB, but since they didn’t, Dallas will carry two QBs. Nick Stephens and UDFA Dalton Williams will take some snaps early on in training camp, but best case scenario is one of them sticks around on the practice squad.
Running Backs (4)
DeMarco Murray – Joseph Randle – Lance Dunbar - Lawrence Vickers
I’m not sure that Lawrence Vickers makes the final roster, but for now he’s here. Dallas doesn’t really have a blocking RB and Vickers will get to prove the chance that he’s healthy and can improve over last season. A guy I don’t see making the team is Phillip Tanner. Tanner never really wowed the coaches when giving the opportunity, and to be honest doesn’t bring anything to the table that Dunbar or Randle cant. UDFA Kendial Lawrence (Rockwell Heath) could be a sleeper if the Cowboys chose to carry 4 RBs
Wide Receivers (6)
The first four on this list are set. The only question is who wins the number three WR spot between Williams and Harris. I feel that the coaches really liked what Beasley showed last season and healthy Danny Coale will turn a lot of heads this summer. Plus, with Mile Austin’s track record on injuries lately, carrying six WRs isn’t out of the question.
Tight Ends (3)
Jason Witten – Gavin Escobar – James Hannah
I don't see a situation (barring injury) that this list will be any different. Andre Smith and Colin Cochart are nothing more than camp bodies/Practice Squad material and most likely won't beat out Hannah.
Offensive Line (10)
It’s very possible that instead of Doug Free’s name, you will see Eric Winston’s when it’s all said it done. That looks like it’s up to Free. I was hesitant to put 10 OL here, but outside of Tyron Smith there isn’t a sure thing on that line. The man thing to watch is seeing how the interior of the line shakes out. Does first round pick Travis Frederick stay at C, or kick inside to OG allowing Phil Costa to start?
Defensive Line (8)
DeMarcus Ware – Jason Hatcher – Jay Ratliff – Anthony Spencer – Tyrone Crawford – Kyle Wilber – Sean Lissemore – Rob Callaway
There really isn’t much if a surprised here, but there should be a heated battle for the last spot on the defensive line. Ben Bass was a training camp surprise, and the Cowboys brought in former second round pick Brian Price to compete at DT. I like Callaway the most and he should be one of the last guys to make the final 53.
Sean Lee – Bruce Carter – Justin Durant – DeVonte Holloman – Caleb McSurdy – Alex Albright – Brandon Magee
This position will really come down to who makes it on the special teams unit. The first three guys on this list are a lock, and Dallas really liked the play of Albright last season. There is a reason Brandon Magee received the amount of guaranteed money ($70,000) he did, he can play both Strong and Weakside linebacker and should make his mark on Special Teams.
Brandon Carr – Morris Claiborne – Orlando Scandrick – BW Webb – Sterling Moore
The Cowboys were decimated by injuries last season at the corner position, that’s one reason why i'm going with a high number for now. Moore’s ability to play some Safety keeps him on this roster for now. Don’t sleep on Brandon Underwood on making the roster either.
Barry Church – Matt Johnson – Will Allen – JJ Wilcox – Danny McCray
I think a total of 10 secondary players might be a bit too much, but frankly we don't know what we will get with Barry Church and Matt Johnson. If they come in healthy and show that they can play at a high level, this number may be reduced by one. That will put Danny McCray on the hot seat, but he stays on now for his Special Teams play. The real question is who wins the FS spot. It should be a heated three way battle between Allen, Johnson, and rookie JJ Wilcox.
Special Teams (3)
Dan Bailey – Chris Kluwe – L.P. Ladoucer
Chris Kluwe? Ok this might not happen, but Chris Jones did have offseason knee surgery, and the Cowboys could bring in a veteran punter like Kluwe for competition.
WR Tim Benford
WR Carlton Mitchell
RB Kendial Lawrence
QB Dalton Williams
OL Ray Dominguez
DL Ikponmwosa Igbinosun
LB Cam Lawrence
S Jakar Hamilton
WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason
NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.
Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:
Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.
If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.
The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.
Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.
If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.
If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.
BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension
Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.
Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.
The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.
While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.
The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.
Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.
Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started
Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.
The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.
All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.
Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.
How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.
When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.
Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.
There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.
The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.
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