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.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Week 15 Impact Games
It's hard to believe that we're looking at the Dallas Cowboys potentially clinching the NFC East this week, but that's how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last five games. Week 15 could lock Dallas into the playoffs and give them a lot of freedom over their final two games.
If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:
- New Orleans Saints (11-2)
- Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
- Chicago Bears (9-4)
- Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
- Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
- Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
- Carolina Panthers (6-7)
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
- Washington Redskins (6-7)
- The Cowboys lost to Seattle earlier this year, but still remain the 4th seed as a division winner over a wild card team.
- The Panthers are ahead of the Eagles thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
- The Eagles are ahead of the Redskins thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. They play each other again in Week 17.
- The Redskins beat the Panthers earlier this year, but their loss to Philadelphia within their own division negates that tiebreaker.
In truth, there's not much intrigue left for the Cowboys in this regular season. One win gives them the NFC East, and it would take the Saints or Rams dropping all three of their remaining games for Dallas to have a shot at a top-two seed.
So, barring the nearly impossible, Dallas is locked into either the 3rd or 4th seed. They will host one of the Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs.
The biggest thing to watch now is how the seeding shakes among the bottom four playoff teams. The Seahawks seem a cut above the likes of Minnesota, Carolina, or one of our NFC East friends, so avoiding them in the first round would be lovely.
Here are this week's games involving the NFC playoff contenders:
Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts
We've already discussed what the Cowboys need to do, so let's talk about the Colts. Not only do they have home field advantage this week, but they are fighting for their playoff lives.
Indianapolis is one of four teams with a 7-6 record battling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos are also in the mix at 6-7, giving none of these teams any cushion for losing.
Dallas has its own incentive to win, though. If they want to avoid Seattle in the first round, they probably need to take the #3 seed from the Chicago Bears. They need to keep winning and hope for the Bears to drop a game or two.
Ultimately, getting into the playoffs and starting at home is a huge reward. But anything that can help make the road a little easier is worth pursuing. It's no time to rest on your laurels.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
As we just discussed, we'd like to see Chicago drop a few games to give Dallas a shot at the #3 seed. This week isn't the worst opportunity, with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still not completely eliminated from playoff contention.
Expecting much from the Packers here is unwise. They've had a coaching change and appear to be in a state of organizational disarray. But they still have Rodgers, and crazy things always happens in rivalry games.
So while these are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, you never know what could happen given the variable elements. By all means, root for the Cheeseheads.
Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings
Your rooting interest here comes down to a simple question; who do you prefer to play among that last bunch of Wild Card teams? Who does Dallas match up best against between the Vikings, Panthers, and Eagles?
I think we'd all agree that we don't want to see the Eagles a third time. Beating a team three times in one year is tough to do, and especially given how close last week's meeting was.
The Panthers beat Dallas in the season opener, but that was in Carolina and well before the Cowboys were playing at a high level. A second meeting could go very differently, especially with the recent slumping by the Panthers.
Both Carolina and Minnesota are struggling, with one on a five-game losing streak and the latter having lost their last two. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, so neither of these teams appear to be going into the postseason with any real momentum.
At this point, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Panthers and Vikings. Both are much preferable to seeing the Eagles again, so I would just keep rooting for both to win. In either case, they knock out Philadelphia.
We'll reassess the threat level of Carolina and Minnesota as playoff opponents in a few weeks.
Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I didn't mention the Redskins among those last three teams because they may not win another game this year. Their QB situation is so bad that even the Jaguars look good by comparison.
Granted, Jacksonville is lousy right now. Washington might be able to go down there and get a win, but neither team has anything to play for now. This one may come down to whether or not the Jaguars have gone into tank mode.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
Seattle just walloped the Niners 43-16 a couple of weeks ago, and changing venues is unlikely to make that much difference. The Seahawks are a legit NFC contender and San Francisco is already thinking about the offseason. A Seattle loss would be great, but it ain't happening this week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams
While catching the Rams and getting a top-two seed would be great, it's barely plausible. The far more concrete benefit here is seeing the Eagles lose and getting them further away from a possible Wild Card spot.
In fact, an Eagles' loss this week would give Dallas the NFC East even if the Cowboys fall in Indianapolis. That's not the way we want to win the division, but you take what you can get.
With the breaking news that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week with a back injury, you'd generally think this suits the Cowboys' interests. But Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still the backup in Philadelphia, so is anything really for certain?
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
We have every reason to root for Carolina here. For one, it helps the Panthers stay ahead of the Eagles in the Wild Card race. Also, it brings the Saints one loss closer to possibly being caught by Dallas. A Saints win doesn't really benefit us all.
Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess
The Dallas Cowboys came away with a huge win against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, putting them in a commanding position in the NFC East. They're up two games in the division and one of the more underrated story lines from the victory is Ezekiel Elliott's game. He had a huge day that no one is talking about.
Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and then caught 12 passes on 13 targets en route to his big performance in the 29-23 win over the Eagles. That's probably the quietest 40 touch, 192 total yard game you'll ever hear about. And yet, that's where we are. Please read that stat line again, because in all of our talk about Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and the defense, Ezekiel Elliott's stat line is absolutely ridiculous.
The receiving element that Elliott is providing the biggest difference to the offense this season. He's been a huge asset to Dak Prescott in the passing game as both a primary target and a check down option in the short part of the field. If Elliott isn't showing that he's the best running back in the league, with what he's doing with a broke down offensive line, then people will never give him the credit he's due.
For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys and their fan base has known what an elite player the Cowboys have in Elliott. He's easily one of the best runners in the NFL, but if you talk to the general NFL fanbase or analysts around the league, Elliott doesn't get the same kind of love as players like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell receive from the national media. The knock against Elliott has been that he doesn't bring the same value as a receiver. With what he has done over the last six weeks, and really all season long, it's safe to say, that won't be a knock against the Cowboys All-Pro running back.
Among running backs this season, Ezekiel Elliott ranks sixth in targets (77), fifth in receptions (65). seventh in yards (502), and is tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with three. Elliott is the seventh highest rated running back when targeted among running backs with at least 50 targets this season.
Over the last six weeks, since the Amari Cooper trade, only Christian McCaffrey has more targets, receptions, and yards than Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott's previous career high was in 2016 when he caught 32 passes on 39 targets. With three games left in the season, Elliott has more than doubled his previous career high from that season. Over the last six weeks, he's caught 40 passes with an average of 6.7 receptions per game.
Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best total yardage season in the NFL. If he continues at his current per game averages, Elliott would finish the season with 330 carries for 1,553 rushing yards, 80 catches on 100 targets for 618 yards and 10 total touchdowns. He's been great this year, but he's been even better over the last six games. At his per game averages for the last six games, over a 16 game season, Elliott's numbers would look like this; 363 carries for 1,715 yards rushing, 107 receptions on 120 targets for 872 yards, and 13 total touchdowns.
It's rare that Ezekiel Elliott has a game like he did on Sunday and it goes largely unnoticed by Cowboys Nation, but that's just how tremendous Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were. In a game where the Cowboys got big games and big plays through the passing game, it was Elliott's steadiness that held things together and helped sustain drives like the fourth and one conversion in overtime. Even with Amari Cooper elevating his game since coming to the Cowboys, there's no question that Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys best skill position player. Expect more big games for Elliott as the Cowboys continue to "Feed Zeke."
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