Nothing but a battle of laundry stands between now and Week 1. Overall, injuries have been reasonably kind to Dallas. Sean Lee got hurt, but that was somewhat expected. DeVonte Holloman’s injury was less expected, but it wasn’t a season-changer. Ready to return or close are Terrell McClain, Morris Claiborne, Henry Melton, and Anthony Spencer.
Dallas may be big players in the waiver wire market next week, if they don’t trade for what they need first. However, it’s a delicate decision because veterans are guaranteed a season’s salary if they are on the 53 for Week 1. Teams don’t like to pay stopgaps for 16 weeks unnecessarily, so that might bode well for rookie hopefuls.
So, here are my survivors after all the glitz, glamour, party busses, and compromising selfies that marked another white-knuckling Cowboys camp.
Quarterbacks (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
This team simply can’t afford to keep Dustin Vaughn. I don’t anticipate an issue getting him on the practice squad, but that risk must be taken. Watch teams like Denver to possibly steal him away and rat-hole him on their rosters, but I don’t think so.
Running backs (4): DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams
I’m honestly not sure who’s a better running back at this point, Murray or Williams. Clutts is gone, though I expect they’ll re-sign him, or another fullback, sometime after Week 1. Randle (or perhaps Williams) may be trade bait for a defensive lineman or linebacker. Loaded at running back right now, but I think a dedicated fullback will ultimately be needed this season.
Receivers (6): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street, Jamar Newsome
Cutting Clutts makes room for Newsome. I don’t want to cut LaRon Byrd, either. One of the best camp groups of receivers we’ve ever seen in Dallas.
Tight ends (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna
As a whole, this was a good camp for these quiet soldiers.
Offensive line (9): Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Uche Nwaneri, Jermey Parnell, John Wetzel
Weems’ ongoing injury may have saved Jermey Parnell from Cowboy extinction. I still think the first backup tackle is Zack Martin because the depth is at guard, not tackle. Rumors persist that they may go eight here to make room for others at RB and WR, but that seems unlikely to me.
Defensive line (10): George Selvie, Anthony Spencer, Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Davon Coleman, free agent, free agent
Here’s where the meat and taters are on the decision plate. I dropped Ken Bishop because I think they’ll find better on the waiver wire, and they can get him on the practice squad. Jeremy Mincey could be in trouble, too, and he’d better be glad DeMarcus Lawrence isn’t available right now. In fact, Lawrence will probably be designated to the injured reserve list and return Week 8 because they need too much help now. Hayden should also be nervous because I suspect 2-4 players that are about to get cut from other teams are headed this way, either by trade (Dallas has RBs and WRs that can play), or by waiver claims. Trades reduce the risk of losing in a waiver wire battle with other teams in need.
Linebacker (6): Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, Rolando McClain, Bruce Carter, Anthony Hitchens, Cameron Lawrence
Gone is Holloman, which created room for either Cameron Lawrence or Will Smith. I’m going with Lawrence. Again, watch the waiver wire here, too.
Cornerback (5): Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, Terrance Mitchell, Tyler Patmon
Hello, Mr. Patmon. Not only did this guy arrive in camp, he’s got to have the coaches thinking about moving him up to the fourth spot ahead of Moore. This has made life difficult for Mitchell and Webb, who could get axed for Ryan Williams’ sake. In fact, I’m cutting Webb. Orlando Scandrick doesn’t count now, but he’ll return, which will mean a player cut at another position.
Safety (5): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jakar Hamilton, Ahmad Dixon, Jeff Heath
Standing pat here, but Dixon needs to learn that this isn’t Rice they’re playing, and that yes, you do have to change the way you play or you’ll be suspended routinely like Brandon Meriweather in Washington.
Specialists (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
I doubt the Australian will take Jones’ spot, though he’s punted well.
Like most lists, mine will no doubt look silly by kickoff on September 7th. I don’t care, I’m just ready for real football once again.