Only 53 roster spots are available for the 90 players that will be going to training camp. After the 53 roster spots are handed out, a player's best hope then lies with the 10 practice squad slots.
Jeanna Thomas from SB Nation put together the practice squad rules in September of last year. Here's the gist of who can be on the practice squad.
- Each team can keep 10 players on its practice squad.
- Up to four of those 10 players can have two accrued NFL seasons. So, was a player on the 53-man roster for at least six games of two NFL seasons? Sorry, they’re out of luck.
- It used to be that three weeks of an NFL season spent on a practice squad counted as one full season of practice squad eligibility. Now, that number has been increased to six weeks, which expands some players’ eligibility.
- A player can spend no more than three seasons on any practice squad.
So with that, who are the 10 players most likely to be on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad?
1. Noah Brown, Wide Receiver
Let me start off by saying that I love the potential that Noah Brown brings to the table. I think his blocking in the run game gives him an outside shot to make the roster week one.
With Dez-like athletic ability and that blocking technique, he will have a future in the NFL. He would be the best bet to be called up during the season if a player like Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, or Brice Butler gets hurt as he can fill that outside receiver role.
The Dallas Cowboys are already pretty deep at wide receiver, it makes sense to me that Brown would start the season on the Practice Squad.
2. Cooper Rush, Quarterback
The Dallas Cowboys love to keep a developmental quarterback on the practice squad just to see what they have. We saw them do this with Jameill Showers before moving him to safety.
It's unlikely that Cooper Rush will be a backup on the active roster, so he makes a lot of sense for the practice squad.
3. Jordan Carrell, Defensive Tackle
Defensive tackle on the Cowboys roster is actually fairly deep. With Cedric Thornton and Stephen Paea in front of him at the 1-technique, and Maliek Collins able to help out there too, it leaves little room for rookie Jordan Carrell.
Carrell is a prospect that the team is excited about, but the numbers game will leave him out of the mix for a roster spot.
4. Joey Ivie, Defensive Tackle
Like Carrell, Joey Ivie will likely be squeezed off the active roster and onto the practice squad because of the depth on the defensive line and the versatility of players like Tyrone Crawford and David Irving, who can play both inside and outside.
Ivie was productive in his limited role at Florida, but may need some more seasoning. What better way to grow than to go against the Dallas offensive line as a scout team player.
5. Marquez White, Cornerback
A sixth round draft pick in 2017 out of Florida State, any other year in the last decade, White might have had a chance to compete for a roster spot. The 2017 Cowboys cornerback group is insanely deep.
There are five guys who could start on the inside or outside for this team in 2017. When was the last time we said that?
White has great athletic ability and will be a player in this game, but may need some time to marinate with the practice squad before being thrown in against NFL caliber wide receivers.
6. Andy Jones, Wide Receiver
Many were intrigued by the ability of Andy Jones during training camp of 2016. Early on he was making plays and had been a favorite target of Tony Romo.
He faded in the preseason games and down the stretch of training camp. Likely to be pushed off the roster because of the depth at his position, Jones will make for a solid practice squad stash again in 2017.
7. Lance Lenoir, Wide Receiver
Already making some noise in OTAs, undrafted rookie free agent, Lance Lenoir is a long shot to make the active roster. He will probably be a training camp darling like Andy Jones was last year, but there won't be enough room for him with the depth that the Cowboys have at wide receiver.
8. Nate Theaker, Guard
The team's bread and butter right now is up front on the offensive line, so Dallas will keep offensive lineman on the practice squad to develop.
Theaker played at a small school, but has enough ability that the Cowboys will bring him to camp. He's unlikely to break into a backup role on the 53 man roster, but like most practice squad players, he has some potential. He'll have to show enough during the preseason games to warrant keeping him on the practice squad.
9. Dan Skipper, Tackle
Dan Skipper is the tallest player in the NFL. Size does matter, but at what point is it too much size? With Skipper the Cowboys will find out.
Skipper's experience at both tackle spots makes him an intriguing prospect as a future swing tackle. However, like with Theaker, the team's depth on the offensive line is going to push Skipper off the roster.
10. Lucas Wacha, Linebacker
Lucas Wacha, the rookie out of Wyoming, made some noise at the rookie minicamp.
From Bryan Broaddus' notes.
"Wyoming linebacker Lucas Wacha was super active on tape this past season. I would keep an eye on him as a possible weakside nickel linebacker in this scheme. His coverage skill and awareness give him a shot to play a couple of different roles, which might help him make this team undrafted."
He may have a shot to make the team, but to me it's a long shot.
The depth of this team is going to make it highly unlikely for any of the undrafted free agents to make the team. Even a couple of the draft picks in Brown and White are going to have an uphill battle.
There's certainly a long way to go to get to September when the practice squad is announced, but as we look at players during training camp, it's important to have a realistic view of where they will end up with the team.
Questions still need to be answered at several positions on the team, but the one thing that is evident is that the 2017 Dallas Cowboys are deep.
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstatement Decision Due Soon
The Dallas Cowboys should know by the end of this week if Defensive End Randy Gregory will be reinstated by the NFL from his indefinite suspension.
Gregory, who has missed nearly two seasons with drug-related bans, requested in May for Roger Goodell to allow him to return to football. The exact date of the request isn't known, but multiple sources put it somewhere around May 18-20.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL has 60 days to rule on a reinstatement request. That would put the approximate deadline no later than this Friday, July 20th.
Gregory was a second-round pick for Dallas in 2015. He was considered to have potentially elite pass-rushing skills but red flags about behavior and drug use hurt his draft stock.
Obviously those warning signs were warranted. Over three seasons, Randy has missed 30 out of 48 games due to suspension.
But reports from around the Cowboys organization and others who've dealt with Gregory rehabilitation efforts are positive. His appeal request appears strong, backed up by several testimonials that he's turned his life around.
Will Roger Goodell agree? Will Randy Gregory return to the Cowboys 2018?
We should know the answer soon.
Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL
Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.
Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.
Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.
At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.
From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.
In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.
In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.
As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.
We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.
It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.
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