Dallas Cowboys: 2013 Bubble Watch

Bubble Watch: Jeff Heath

August, 26, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Rookie safety Jeff Heath might be going from training camp body to member of the 53-man roster.

“He doesn’t look like an undrafted free agent from a little, small school,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said after Saturday’s 24-18 win against Cincinnati. “He looks like a kid who belongs, and he does.”

How small of a school? Saginaw Valley State, a Division II school.

Heath has done in training camp what the Cowboys hoped they would see from Matt Johnson, last year’s fourth-round pick from Eastern Washington. Johnson has not practiced since aggravating a foot injury in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame Game against Miami, and it is not looking like Johnson will be able to practice this week in order to play against Houston on Thursday.

Against Cincinnati, Heath had one of the biggest hits, forcing a Cobi Hamilton fumble along the sideline in the third quarter. He finished with two tackles.

With injuries to Johnson and Eric Frampton and J.J. Wilcox’s absence due to the death of his mother, Heath moved up to the No. 2 defense for a week or so of camp. He has been running with the first-team kickoff and punt coverage teams on special teams.

The fight is not over because the Cowboys have showed incredible patience with Johnson, who did not play as a rookie due to multiple hamstring injuries, and because Frampton is a dependable veteran special teams player. That said, Heath has put himself in the conversation to make the 53-man roster.

Bubble watch: Caleb McSurdy

August, 12, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – Earlier in training camp Jason Garrett joked that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin asked him every night about not knowing the backup to Sean Lee.

Through two preseason games the answer is not known yet either, but Caleb McSurdy, a seventh-round pick in 2012, might be working his way into the mix.

McSurdy’s rookie season was ended before he could even play in a preseason game when he tore his Achilles in non-contact drills. He rehabbed along with Barry Church and has been full go since the organized team activities.

The move to the 4-3 would not seem to fit his style as much as the 3-4 the Cowboys used last year, but McSurdy has done a decent job. He is in a fight with undrafted rookie Brandon Magee, who has a $70,000 guarantee on his deal, for one of the final linebacker spots. In fact, they probably need the Cowboys to go with seven linebackers on the 53-man roster to be assured a spot.

Bubble Watch: George Selvie

August, 5, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – George Selvie was not in football two weeks ago. If not for injuries along the Cowboys’ defensive line he would not be in Oxnard, Calif.

On Sunday, Selvie had two sacks, four tackles and three quarterback hurries.

“Me and Emmitt Smith were together three weeks ago in Pensacola, Fla., three weeks ago at a banquet, I saw him here and he said, ‘They called you? Man, you’ve got to go out and do your thing,’” Selvie said. “It’s a great feeling having him out there.”

Selvie signed July 24 and made an impact at his first practice that day. With a premium on pass rushers, the Cowboys hope they hit on one that wasn’t on their roster to open camp.

“Boy, he did a nice job,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s done a nice job from his first practice with us. He’s a good football player. He’s a hungry football player.”

And he’s not satisfied. He knows a spot is not locked up.

“It’s a producing league,” Selvie said. “You produce, you stay in.”

Bubble watch: WR Anthony Armstrong

July, 29, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – After the 2010 season, Anthony Armstrong thought he might have found a home in the NFL with Washington.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Armstrong
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezAnthony Armstrong is still trying to find the form he displayed in 2010 with the Redskins.
He played in 15 games, started 11 and caught 44 passes for 871 yards and three touchdowns.

But then the Redskins made a coaching change, bringing in Mike Shanahan, and Armstrong caught only seven passes for 103 yards in 2011. Last year, he played in five games for Miami and one for the Cowboys and caught three passes.

“I think about that every day,” Armstrong said. “I always want to return to that 2010 level of play. It’s still going to be a grind regardless. People are going to have their guys they want to work in and you’ve got to find the right match.”

Armstrong hopes the Cowboys are the right match in 2013. It will be a tough road to crack the top five receivers, but there is always a chance the Cowboys keep six wideouts. The top five now are Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley.

With Bryant (hip) and Austin (rest) getting some time off, Armstrong got more work lately. He responded with a touchdown catch from Tony Romo on Friday and a generally productive session.

“Whenever you get to be in training camp you’ve got an opportunity to make the team, regardless of your status and how you got here,” Armstrong said. “Being able to be here from the beginning is huge. You get on equal ground you can say. Last year coming in near the end of the season you’ve got to learn the playbook, get the chemistry and hope to find a niche. Hopefully things go better for me this year.”

Bubble watch: Kevin Kowalski, David Arkin

July, 22, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. – Injuries present opportunities.

Kevin Kowalski and David Arkin never expected to be in the starting lineup when the Cowboys had their first training camp practice on Sunday, but with Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary on the sidelines because of injuries they were able to get the snaps.

In Tim MacMahon’s 53-man roster projections, Kowalski is on the team and Arkin is not. The added work in practice helps their chances to earn notice from the coaches.

Arkin received the bulk of the work at right guard in Bernadeau’s absence last season because of knee and hip surgeries. This year he benefitted from Bernadeau’s strained hamstring suffered in the conditioning test.

Kowalski was third on the depth chart at guard behind Livings and Leary, but now he gets work he didn’t get last year because of an ankle injury that kept him out until nearly the midway point of last season.

Their chances are helped by some position flexibility, but Kowalski is the more natural center of the two. Both players took some snaps with the quarterbacks in pre-practice work but not in team drills.

“We’ve got a lot of football to be played before we play the Giants in the opener and we have to do the right things as an organization to get these guys out there practicing when they’re ready to do that,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll do that but in the meantime other guys get opportunities to show what they can do.”