Dallas Cowboys: Kenwin Cummings

IRVING, Texas -- Just because the Cowboys set their 53-man roster on Saturday does not mean this will be the roster they take to the Meadowlands on Sept. 11 to play the New York Jets.

There could be a number of changes, but for now we’ll look at the current makeup of the roster and offer up some thoughts.

Biggest surprise

I can’t count the two-kicker magic as a surprise because we’ve talked about it for some time, but I don’t know of anybody who had tight end Martin Rucker making the team. I’m sure the spot came down to Rucker and Jason Pociask. I gave the edge to Pociask because he can play fullback. Rucker’s blocking improved but he does not offer the same flexibility of a John Phillips. This could mean Martellus Bennett will not be ready for the opener because of an ankle injury.

Biggest surprise, runner-ups

Clifton Geathers has all of the measurables you want in a 3-4 defensive end, but will it ever translate to production? I’m not so sure. Seven defensive linemen on the roster seems a little rich. OT Jermey Parnell played well enough to earn a spot, but I don’t think the Cowboys are done maneuvering on their offensive line.

Four undrafted rookies made it

You have to take in the “right now” aspect of the roster, but Dan Bailey will be the kicker, Alex Albright outplayed Brandon Williams for a backup outside linebacker spot and running back Phillip Tanner just took a roster spot with his play. Center Kevin Kowalski is probably helped by Phil Costa’s knee injury, although he did pretty well vs. Minnesota and Miami.

Two draft picks didn’t

Josh Thomas, a fifth-round pick, was done in because of a hamstring injury that prevented him from playing against the Dolphins. He’ll probably be on the practice squad. Shaun Chapas, a seventh rounder, was hurt by Bennett’s injury. He seemed to play better in the games than in practice. I can see him getting a call up to the roster soon if he makes it to the practice squad.

A little light

This was part of my last projection, so I can’t call it a surprise, but taking only three inside linebackers to the 53-man roster is a little light. Bradie James was slowed last week by an ankle injury. Keith Brooking missed most of camp with a hamstring injury. Sean Lee was banged up a lot last year as a rookie but hasn’t missed any time this year. Kenwin Cummings had a chance to win a spot but could not nail it down. Orie Lemon could be back on the practice squad.

Vol. 4: Archer's roster projection

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
11:59
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The preseason is over and the Cowboys have to make 17 roster moves by Saturday to make the 53-man limit. Here’s what the final cuts– though not necessarily the final roster that faces the New York Jets on Sept. 11 - could look like:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No changes from the previous three projections. Tom Brandstater could be a practice squad guy.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner did everything he could to make the final roster, so could Choice be on the bubble? It’s difficult to think they could go with two rookies as the backups to Jones, but stranger things have happened.

FULLBACK (1)

Jason Pociask

I’m not sure Pociask won the job or if he got it because he can play tight end in a pinch, which is a bonus because of Martellus Bennett’s ankle injury. Chapas got better later and should find his way to the practice squad if Pociask is the pick. Gronkowski did a nice job on special teams in the preseason but he gets caught in a numbers’ game.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

No changes here and there is hope Bennett could be ready for the opener vs. the Jets.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley’s special teams experience gives him the edge but he also showed he can possibly help as a receiver. Harris went quiet after a huge debut vs. Denver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Kevin Kowalski
TBD

Look for a waiver-wire pickup to claim that last spot. I went back and forth on Kowalski, who helped himself with his work in the final two games. With Kosier as the game-day backup at center and Nagy having taken snaps at center in camp there is more of a need at tackle to fill out the back end of this group.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

If you go on position flexibility then Lissemore wins that final spot because he can play end and nose. If you’re looking for the prototype 3-4 end to grow as the year progresses then Clifton Geathers is that guy.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee

Kenwin Cummings loses out on the final spot on the roster and is hurt the most by having two kickers. You have to go light somewhere but I think I’m taking a risk at such a physical spot. With Bruce Carter expected to return after six weeks, I feel OK about this move.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

The toughest call was between Albright and Cummings. Albright got the edge because of his upside even if he is practice squad eligible.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann
Mario Butler

Josh Thomas picked the wrong time to get a hamstring injury, which gives Butler the final cornerback spot. Thomas, if he clears waivers, would go to the practice squad. McCann looks like he’ll be the kick returner on opening day.

SAFETY (4)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Church is more ready to play every down on defense than McCray, who is the better special teamer. Last year’s fourth round pick, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah comes up short in his bid to make the club.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
David Buehler
L.P. Ladouceur

Graham was helped the most by not kicking Thursday. Dave Rayner missed two kicks in his audition. Buehler missed one. How could the organization have confidence going into the Jets’ game? Buehler at least can handle kickoffs. Keeping two kickers did not seem like an option, especially with kickoffs coming from the 35, but if Buehler can produce touchbacks at a high clip then offenses will have to go 80 yards for a touchdown.

Vol. 3: Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 28, 2011
8/28/11
11:45
AM ET


IRVING, Texas -- Three preseason games are in the books so here is the third look at what the Cowboys’ 53-man roster could look like after the final cuts:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

Once again, no surprises here. Tom Brandstater will probably start the preseason finale against Miami if the Cowboys follow the same pattern as the recent past. He could be a practice squad candidate if he performs well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner gets the call this week over Lonyae Miller because he’s done a better job running the football, but can he cover punts and kicks if needed? Choice and Murray did a nice job in their first games of the preseason. Jerry Jones said during the broadcast Choice remains on the bubble, so don’t rule out Miller.

FULLBACK (1)

Shaun Chapas

Chapas, Chris Gronkowski and Jason Pociask got turns at fullback against Minnesota with the regulars. Chapas was part of this 53-man roster last week and seemed to do a decent job against the Vikings. The high-ankle injury suffered by Martellus Bennett helps this position because I believe they were leaning toward keeping four tight ends.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Bennett’s injury throws some questions into the fullback and tight end spots. Depending on the severity maybe the Cowboys go with a fourth tight end for the early part of the season. Phillips will be Witten’s backup now, but I’m not sure Martin Rucker sticks as the No. 3 guy if Bennett is out. I wouldn’t rule out Pociask either.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley helped himself with his play against the Vikings but this is more of a special teams’ pick. The gamble is trying to get undrafted rookie wide receiver Raymond Radway on the practice squad. Harris gets the edge over Radway because of his return ability but I wouldn’t consider Harris a lock.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
TBD

The biggest departure is Andre Gurode. The Cowboys will meet with the five-time Pro Bowler today and if there is no agreement on a lowered salary then he will be let go. It’s something of a stunner because of Costa’s knee injury and inexperience that will be on the line. I listed eight plus an undetermined spot, but I can see Kevin Kowalski on the final roster or the team adding a player after the final cuts.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

No change here from the first two weeks, but could the Cowboys go with only five defensive linemen? It’s a gamble but I wouldn’t rule it out as the Cowboys look more at the 46-man game-day roster than just the 53.


INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

The final spot here comes down to Cummings over Orie Lemon, who did not play vs. Minnesota because of a hamstring injury. Cummings played despite a thumb procedure in the middle of the week. Rookie Bruce Carter will start the year on PUP, so he does not count against the 53-man roster.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

No changes here as well. Albright gets the nod over Brandon Williams. After a little bit of a lull, Butler was much more active against the Vikings.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

Injuries to Ball (elbow) and Thomas (hamstring) create some worry with the cornerbacks, especially with Newman (groin) and Jenkins (stinger) not yet 100 percent. Undrafted rookie Mario Butler is still in the mix, especially if Thomas is unable to recover in time to play vs. Miami on Thursday.

SAFETY (5)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Andrew Sendejo

With nine offensive linemen I added Sendejo to the mix only because of special teams. That would be 11 defensive backs on the final roster but all of them be active on gameday?


SPECIALISTS (3)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
L.P. Ladouceur

Shayne Graham gets the call over Dan Bailey. David Buehler has to come back from the hip strain this week or he has no chance. Bailey made two kicks against Minnesota, including an under-pressure 40 yarder in the fourth quarter. But Graham’s resume gives him the nod. I just don’t believe they can go with an unproven kicker.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys have 83 players on their training camp roster and on Aug. 30, the Cowboys along with every other NFL team has to cut the numbers down to 80.

Then on Sept. 1, the Cowboys visit the Miami Dolphins for the final preseason game of the year.

Coach Jason Garrett said the first-team offense and defenses will play the bulk of the first half and if necessary the third quarter of Saturday's preseason game at Minnesota. For players trying to make the team, the fourth quarter of the Vikings game and the final preseason game at Miami is a chance for young players to prove themselves.

A look at some battles among the younger players:

Fullback:Chris Gronkowski, Shaun Chapas and Jason Pociask are competing for maybe one job. Running backs coach Skip Peete said this group has to block better. If not, expect the Cowboys to possibly keep four tight ends. The fourth tight end might be Martin Rucker, who has improved as a blocker and receiver.

Wide receiver:The No. 3 receiver spot is Kevin Ogletree's after that Dwayne Harris, Raymond Radway, Manuel Johnson and Jesse Holley are seeking two more spots. Harris had two touchdowns in the preseason opener, but no catches in the second preseason game. Holley is growing as a receiver and could make the team again as a special teams ace.

Running back:Tashard Choice has looked good in his return from a calf injury this week. Phillip Tanner surpassed Lonyae Miller in terms of production, but the fourth running back could be a practice squad candidate. Whoever plays well among Tanner and Miller most likely gets it.

Offensive line:The swing tackle could be Sam Young or Jermey Parnell. However, Kevin Kowalski could also make this roster at guard. He replaced a benched Pepa Letuli in the second preseason game. Andre Gurode is the starting center, but Garrett said that might change with the good work of Phil Costa.

Linebacker:The big five are Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Victor Butler has played well in camp and seems assured a roster spot. Bruce Carter won't be available because he's still recovering from knee surgery. Carter could start the season on the PUP and then is out for six weeks. How many linebackers to keep is a question. Alex Albright, Kenwin Cummings, Orie Lemon and Brandon Williams are in the mix to make the roster at either inside or outside linebacker.

Secondary:Mario Butler and Bryan McCann are two young corners fighting with draft pick Josh Thomas for the fourth corner position. McCann and Thomas could make the roster. McCann due to his special teams work and Thomas because he's got more potential than Butler. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, in only his second season, might be on the bubble at safety. Danny McCray has played well at times and Andrew Sendejo has to play better the next two weeks.

Injury report: Terence Newman runs hard

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
8:24
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Linebacker Kenwin Cummings missed Tuesday's afternoon practice with a bruised thumb. His status for Wednesday's walkthrough and the night practice is uncertain.

The Cowboys did get some good news on the health front with Tashard Choice (calf), DeMarco Murray (hamstring) and Keith Brooking (hamstring) returning to the practice fields. Choice and Brooking were injured the first week of camp, while Murray suffered his injury during the lockout.

Also, Terence Newman, out with a groin injury, was sprinting in the end zone along with another injured player, kicker David Buehler (hip). Newman wouldn't say if he's ahead of schedule -- he's supposed to miss the entire preseason -- but Jerry Jones has said Newman's rehab is ahead of what was expected of him. Seeing Newman running hard on Tuesday was a good sign for the Cowboys.

Mike Jenkins' health remains a question as he's still recovering from a stinger. Jenkins had recovered from the orginal stinger, but suffered another one and now the team is hoping he can regain the strength back in his neck/shoulder area in time for the season opener.

Jenkins is doing individual drills but must avoid contact until he can pass some strength tests such as lifting weights before he can gain clearance.

Jason Hatcher (toe) was doing lateral drills and Montrae Holland (back) worked with the team during the conditioning period.

Rob Ryan on paying homage to Tom Landry

August, 13, 2011
8/13/11
4:11
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Buddy Ryan infuriated Cowboys coach Tom Landry and the team’s fans over the years, but his son, Rob, the new defensive coordinator, did his best to win over some fans in Thursday’s preseason opener against Denver.

Ryan opened up in Landry’s famed “Flex” defense, complete with linebacker Kenwin Cummings, who wears No. 54, in Randy White’s spot in a four-point stance just off the line of scrimmage.

“Me and Jason had been batting that idea around for a long time and with the alumni coming into town we wanted to respect them by lining up in the Flex,” Ryan said.

Whether the players fully grasped the concept of the Flex was another story.

“We did the best we could on a patchwork explanation,” Ryan said. “… At least it resembled it. We played four-deep behind it if somebody went deep we at least were going to cover him. I think Coach Landry did a better job of explaining it than I did, but at least got a guy in the frog stance and he never screwed up anything.”

Kenwin Cummings has heard this before

August, 8, 2011
8/08/11
9:40
AM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- A few times during training camp linebacker Kenwin Cummings swears he has heard Rex Ryan talk during the Cowboys' meetings.

Cummings, an inside linebacker, is the only player in camp to have played for Rob, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, and Rex, the head coach of the New York Jets.

“Sometimes he’ll say something and I’ll look, ‘Is that Rex? No, it’s Rob,’” Cummings said. “They’re so much alike in every way. They’re just identical … except for the hair.”

Cummings joined the Cowboys last December off the Jets’ practice squad and played in two games, all on special teams. Cummings said the defenses the Brothers Ryan run are not the same.

“They may have some similarities, but they’re their own person and their own different way of playing different things,” Cummings said.

He did not want to go into state secrets on the schemes.

“I would say one’s maybe more aggressive in certain areas than the other, but in general they both come from that great Buddy Ryan,” Cummings said. “They both learned from their dad and they’re aggressive.”

Cummings grateful for chance with Cowboys

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
9:12
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- On Tuesday Kenwin Cummings was on the New York Jets’ practice squad and preparing for a playoff run with one of the AFC’s better teams.

On Wednesday he joined the 53-man roster of the 4-8 Cowboys, who need a minor miracle to make the playoffs in the NFC.

“It was tough but this is a great opportunity for me,” said Cummings, who spent most of the last three seasons on the Jets’ practice squad. “I just want to take full advantage of it.”

Because of injuries to inside linebackers Keith Brooking, Sean Lee and Bradie James, the Cowboys might need Cummings to be active Sunday vs. Philadelphia. He could at least play a special teams’ role. With the Jets he had the fiery Mike Westhoff as his special teams coach. Here he has a similarly fiery Joe DeCamillis.

“Exactly the same guy,” Cummings said. “Same high tempo, they expect things and if they don’t get it this way, they’re going to keep doing it until he does get what he wants. That’s the trait of a good coach.”

Cummings has something in common with quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. They are Type 1 diabetics. Cummings checks his blood sugars five times a day and keeps an insulin pack with him almost all of the time.

“I’ve talked to some kids that have been diagnosed with diabetes about it doesn’t have to be restraining,” Cummings said. “When I was first diagnosed I was told I shouldn’t play football that it would be too hard for me but in the end it’s all paying off.”

Cowboys sign LB off Jets practice squad

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
10:09
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have officially placed wide receiver Dez Bryant on injured reserve and signed inside linebacker Kenwin Cummings off the New York Jets’ practice squad to take the roster spot.

Bryant had surgery Monday to repair a fractured fibula.

Cummings, 6-3, 250, has spent most of the last three years on the Jets’ practice squad and was active for one game this season with one special teams tackle. He joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Wingate in 2008. The Cowboys must keep Cummings on their active roster for three games, per league rules.

Cummings is also a Type 1 diabetic. Check out this story from the Newark Star Ledger.

With Keith Brooking slowed by a sprained left foot and Sean Lee suffering a shoulder injury Sunday at Indianapolis, the Cowboys needed linebacker help.

The Cowboys also signed tight end Jason Pociask to the practice squad. He was with the team in training camp for a spell this summer.

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