IRVING, Texas – For at least 18 players, tonight’s game against Miami will be the last time they put on a Cowboys jersey for a game.
The Cowboys have 75 players under contract but have to get to the 53-man limit Friday. It’s possible they could cut more and claim players off waivers.
Tonight is all about the backups as the Cowboys rest most of their regulars in preparation for the regular season opener at the New York Giants, but can a player change the minds of the coaches and front office staff with a good showing?
Here are five guys to watch:
QB Rudy Carpenter: Calvin Watkins wrote about Stephen McGee, so I’ll look at the other quarterback playing tonight. Carpenter does not have McGee’s measurables but he knows how to play the game. I think that’s why Jason Garrett likes him. Maybe he sees a little of himself in Carpenter. What helps Carpenter is that he has practice squad eligibility left, unlike McGee.
RB Lance Dunbar: His hamstring injury really hurt his chances, but he’s in the mix for the No. 3 tailback spot. Where he might be able to make a difference is in the return game, so let’s hope he gets some opportunities. He is fast, elusive and can hit it. The key for a kick returner is to be decisive. Too often the Cowboys' returners have not been decisive (think Teddy Williams) and the returns hardly get to the 20. Dunbar has a chance to turn some heads tonight.
WR Saalim Hakim: Like Dunbar, he was done in by an injury early in camp. He broke his finger and missed three weeks. He saw some action vs. St. Louis and had a catch negated by a penalty. But he’s another guy to watch on special teams. He could be a terror as a gunner on the punt team with that speed. Now, is it enough to keep on the 53-man roster? Probably not. But it could buy him a spot on the practice squad.
LB Adrian Hamilton: He’s been on this list before and has become something of a pet cat for a lot of fans. He had a sack vs. the Rams. He played well in the opener at Oakland, too. If he harasses the Dolphins’ quarterbacks tonight, maybe he makes it too hard for the Cowboys to cut him. Pass rushers don’t grow on trees, but he’s not even close to a finished product. With injuries at a lot of spots, it’s hard to put a redshirt year on a guy on the 53-man roster.
OT Jeff Adams: Again, this is more about the practice squad. He did a nice job vs. San Diego game before he just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter when Jermey Parnell was kept out of the game with a neck injury. If Adams plays well, then maybe the Cowboys don’t keep four tackles on the 53-man roster, but that seems like a little bit of a stretch. At the very least, he can show he has a chance to grow with more work on the practice squad.