Fresh off of watching some hard to watch preseason action in week 4, it’s time to make some really tough decisions for the final cuts. From my last 53 there aren’t too many changes, though.
I reiterate my disclaimer: The Cowboys will look hard at the waiver wire following Saturday’s final cut and there may be some guys who make it simply for their Special Teams value, regardless of offensive or defensive potential. With both Orlando Scandrick and Jakar Hamilton now serving 4 game suspensions to start the season, this does give the Cowboys a little flexibility to table a few difficult decision for a month from now.
Quarterback: Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Dustin Vaughan
Vaughan is the first guy I suspect the Cowboys will use one of the above-mentioned extra spots on. As stated previously, the Cowboys are just one bad hit away from diving in the scrap-heap for someone to back up Weeden; it makes sense that the Cowboys keep an insurance policy.
Wide Receiver: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street, LaRon Byrd
Jamar Newsome has earned consideration here, but Byrd – in my view – has won the 6th spot, should the Cowboys decide to keep 6.
Tight End: Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna
Nothing new at TE…yet. This is another position the Cowboys will watch on the waiver wire for a good blocker.
Running Back: DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Joseph Randle
Ryan is the DeMarco Murray backup and potential starter for 2015, should the Cowboys be unable to retain Murray’s services following this season. Lance Dunbar will remain the change-of-pace back. Randle is an excellent Special Teams contributor.
Full Back: none / waiver wire
The Cowboys would really like to have a Full Back, however, given the difficult decisions elsewhere on the team, this is not a luxury the final 53 can afford.
Tackle: Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Jermey Parnell
Guard: Zack Martin, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ronald Leary, Uche Nwaneri
Center: Travis Frederick
I have been saying for weeks that if the Cowboys keep more than 8 offensive lineman, Wetzel and Weems are battling for that last position. Neither did themselves any favors in the 4th preseason game. I’m standing pat from my last 53.
Defensive End: DeMarcus Lawrence, George Selvie, Anthony Spencer, Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Kenneth Boatright, Caesar Rayford
Once again, the Cowboys may very well add a player before they face the 49ers. For now, Rayford makes the team based on the injury situation; otherwise, he would be on the outside looking in. That being said, it is very possible for him to be a late cut next week if the Cowboys find someone else following the NFL-wide final cuts.
Defensive Tackle: Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Davon Coleman, Zach Minter
For several weeks now I have suspected that the Cowboys would keep Hayden based on his experience. Given how poorly this unit has performed, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys decided to roll the dice on youth across the board, defensively.
Based on what we have seen, the Cowboys defense is going to struggle regardless of who makes the final 53; therefore, on my final edition of the Cowboys season-opening roster, potential beats experience. Dartwan Bush is one to watch, however, I believe he is a guy the Cowboys will have a better chance of sliding to the practice squad without incident.
Linebackers: Rolando McClain, Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Anthony Hitchens, Kyle Wilber, Cameron Lawrence
Lawrence is a new addition to my 53 due to word that Special Teams coach Rich Bisaccia has selected Lawrence and one other player as contributors he cannot do without. Otherwise, no further changes necessary; this is one of the easier groups to discern in terms of who makes the team.
Cornerbacks: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Terrance Mitchell, Sterling Moore, Tyler Patmon
Mitchell is on very thin ice. The amount of penalties this young man has garnered would likely land him on the street were it not for the impending Scandrick suspension. The late addition of Jemea Thomas from the Patriots is interesting, considering he was a player the Cowboys reportedly liked in the draft.
Nevertheless, given the necessity for players who know the system now, I find it difficult to believe that he was brought in for anything more than a quick look and the potential of moving him to the Practice Squad.
Safety: Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Ahmad Dixon, Jeff Heath
Heath is the other player Bisaccia selected as a key Special Teams contributor, so he is safe.
Kicker: Dan Bailey
Punter: Chris Jones
Long Snapper: L.P. Ladouceur
Bailey and Ladouceur are still locks. Jones is clearly safe, as well, and I would add that he showed improvement as he progressed through preseason. Nonetheless, I still suspect the Cowboys will continue their search to improve the punter position next offseason.