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 Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.
Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.
Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.
Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.
Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.
The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.
Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.
Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.
Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.
Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.
He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.
If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.
Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.
Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.
That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.
#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance
It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.
But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.
Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.
What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.
For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.
As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.
Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.
Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).
Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
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