Dallas Cowboys: Sam Young

Five Wonders: Never land at No. 16

May, 6, 2014
May 6
9:30
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IRVING, Texas -- With the draft finally within site, unless there is some sort of rain delay, it’s time for Five Wonders to return.

We’ll keep them focused on the draft.

** I wonder if the Cowboys are in never-never land with the 16th pick when it comes to first-round defensive linemen. That’s what an 8-8 finish will do for you. You’re stuck right in the middle and have to do too much to move up significantly and won’t get enough (some of the time) to move down big either. After Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, there is a drop-off on right defensive ends. Anthony Barr is a project and somebody I believe the Cowboys would pick at No. 16. Will he be there at No. 16? The rest of the options available, like a Kony Ealy, Scott Crichton, Kareem Martin or Demarcus Lawrence look more like second-round picks. That’s why I think if the Cowboys move up it’s only a couple of spots for a specific player. The more likely option is to move back where they’d have better choices at the right value. Now if only some team would be willing to move up.

** I wonder what the reaction of people who live in the best-player-available world would be if the Cowboys took North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron in the first round. If Ebron is there at No. 16 and is the best player, then the Cowboys must take him, right? If you live in the best-player-available world in which there is no gray area, then Ebron is your guy. Hooray. But after taking Gavin Escobar in the second round last year and seeing Jason Witten make another Pro Bowl in 2013, do the Cowboys need a first-round tight end? You might hate the word “need” but I don’t. Need has become the four-letter word in draft circles. If they take Ebron, they are saying the Escobar pick was a mistake and Witten is on his final legs. Ebron is a terrific talent, but the Cowboys can’t pick him. I do think, however, the Cowboys would take a tight end (more of a blocker than receiver) later on in the draft.

** I wonder how much scheme versatility will factor into the Cowboys’ decision making Thursday-Saturday. The elephant in the room is that Jason Garrett must win now. He is in the final year of his contract. If he doesn’t win, then Jerry Jones doesn’t have to fire him. He just needs to pick a new coach. But let’s say Jerry falls in love with a coach who has a 3-4 background or an offensive coach who wants to bring in a 3-4 coordinator. Can the Cowboys make the switch again? They felt they had the tools to move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 somewhat seamlessly and we saw how that worked in 2013. If the Cowboys picked Aaron Donald in the first round, then would he fit in a 3-4 scheme next year? He doesn’t look like a 3-4 player. It is a fatalistic view to have going into a draft, but the Cowboys could find some defensive prospects that offer versatility in a 3-4 or 4-3, like Barr, Ealy, Lawrence and possibly Ryan Shazier.

SportsNation

Which position should the Cowboys address first in the draft?

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    42%
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    27%
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    4%
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    24%
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    3%

Discuss (Total votes: 11,844)

**I wonder if third round is the area in which the Cowboys target an offensive lineman. Of the linemen not named Zack Martin who visited Valley Ranch before the draft, almost all of them are in that Rounds 3-4 neighborhood like Gabe Jackson, Trai Turner, Jack Mewhort and Billy Turner. To be clear, in just about every mock I’ve been asked to participate in, I have the Cowboys taking Martin at No. 16. If they go offense there, I think they need (there’s that word again) to go defense with the second- and third-round picks, provided the grades match up. I’m breaking all ties in the defense’s favor. I’ll add this note: The last middle-round (Rounds 3-5) offensive lineman to pan out for the Cowboys was Doug Free (fourth round) back in 2007. And it took him well into his third season to get on the field. Since then the Cowboys have missed on Robert Brewster (third, 2009) and David Arkin (fourth, 2011). I’ll give them partial credit for Sam Young (sixth, 2010) since he’s still in the league. Their best middle-round offensive lineman in the last 10 years has been Stephen Peterman (third, 2004) and his playing time came with the Detroit Lions after he was cut.

**I wonder if the extra time in the draft has led teams to overanalyze things. The New Orleans Saints attempted to bust up the boredom by spending some time in Las Vegas. Some other teams took a week’s break earlier in the process. The Cowboys altered their schedule some but not that much. Too often we hear teams talk about the importance of watching the players play and not putting as much stock into the combine or pro days. And every year there are guys that come out of nowhere, like Pitt quarterback Tom Savage, and small-school gems, like Pierre Desir. Maybe they will be great finds. Who knows really? The extra time served up plenty of interest, which the NFL craves, and allowed for more mock drafts than ever before, but did it really serve the teams well? We’ll find out in a couple of years.

Reviewing the Cowboys' drafts: 2010

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Day 2 of reviewing the Dallas Cowboys' last five drafts continues today with the Class of 2010.

If you want our thoughts on the 2009 draft, click here.

First-round pick: Dez Bryant (No. 24 overall)

Bryant
Bryant
Number of picks: 6

How they did: The Cowboys landed two building-block players in Bryant and Sean Lee. Bryant is coming off back-to-back 90-catch, 1,000-yard seasons and is dynamic. Lee is the leader of the defense and its best player, when healthy. Health has been a key issue for Lee since he has yet to play a full season because of injuries.

Sixth-round pick Sam Young is still in the league (Buffalo Bills) and the Cowboys landed a draft pick in return for their seventh rounder Sean Lissemore in a trade last summer with the San Diego Chargers. Lissemore was a quality pick but no longer a scheme fit with the change to the 4-3.

Pivotal pick: Injuries at Penn State kept Lee (No. 55 overall) out of the first round, but the Cowboys were willing to be patient with him because they sensed a special talent. He loves football in a way few players love the game and he is willing to put in the work. Had Lee been healthy, the Cowboys would not have been able to get him in the second round. Lee has been a playmaker since he joined the team and the Cowboys gave him a $42 million contract extension last summer.

Best pick: Bryant (No. 24 overall) slipped because of offseason concerns but the Cowboys moved up to get him and felt they could provide him with the best atmosphere to succeed. They did this less than two seasons after trading for Roy Williams and seeing Miles Austin make the Pro Bowl in 2009. They didn't need a wide receiver, but Bryant was too good to pass up. Williams was eventually cut and injuries led to Austin's departure this offseason. Bryant is now one of the best receivers in the NFL and coming off his first Pro Bowl.

Worst pick: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (No. 126 overall) put together a fantastic highlight tape and he tested great at the NFL scouting combine and at a pro day. Unfortunately his skills from Division II Indiana (Pa.) never translated. He played cornerback, but the Cowboys made him a safety and when that didn't work they made him a receiver. He was supposed to be a top kick returner but averaged only 21.7 yards per return. Seven picks after Owusu-Ansah the Seattle Seahawks took safety Kam Chancellor in the fifth round.

Safety Owusu-Ansah to join Jacksonville

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
3:49
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IRVING, Texas -- The Akwasi Owusu-Ansah era with the Cowboys is officially over.

Owusu-Ansah was called up to Jacksonville's active roster a day after joining the practice squad and will return to playing safety after the Cowboys converted him to wide receiver at the beginning of the regular season.

The Cowboys released Owusu-Ansah last week to call up fullback Shaun Chapas from the practice squad. They kept him on the 53-man roster through last Tuesday in order for him to receive a game check of roughly $26,500 with the hope of him re-joining the practice squad this week.

Instead, Owusu-Ansah chose to go to Jacksonville.

A fourth-round pick last year out of Division II Indiana (Pa.), Owusu-Ansah made his only contributions in two seasons on special teams, returning kickoffs and punts. He also had four special teams’ tackles. A cornerback in college, the Cowboys moved him to safety but he came to the team with a shoulder injury and missed most of training camp as a rookie. He played in seven games in 2010 before an ankle injury forced him to injured reserve.

He was among the final cuts this summer after an unimpressive training camp and was moved to wide receiver early in the season. He did not see any time in games as a wide receiver.

Owusu-Ansah is the third of the team’s six 2010 draft picks to no longer in the organization, joining tackle Sam Young and cornerback Jamar Wall. Only three of the 12 picks in 2009 remain on the active roster (Stephen McGee, Victor Butler and John Phillips). Kicker David Buehler is on injured reserve.

5 Wonders: roster moves, Romo, Newman, Ware

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
10:30
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IRVING, Texas -- The weekly installment of Five Wonders is here, so maybe that shortness of breath you feel isn’t because of a punctured lung.

** With the way the Cowboys operated in training camp and at the end of last season, you knew Jason Garrett would make sure there is not a lot of comfort on the roster. So far the Cowboys have made five roster moves involving seven players: Montrae Holland, Derrick Dockery, Sam Young, Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Frank Walker and Martin Rucker. Last year the Cowboys made seven moves on the 53-man roster that did not involve placing a player on injured reserve. Don’t be surprised if Robinson, the wide receiver, returns today. The question is for whom?

PODCAST
Warren Sapp reveals if defenses attack a wounded player's weakness and his thoughts on DeMarcus Ware as a leader of the Cowboys.

Listen Listen
** Yes, Jason Witten is Tony Romo’s favorite target. Why wouldn’t he be? But one of Romo’s strengths is his ability to go to any pass catcher at any time. Romo completed 12-of-15 passes for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime vs. San Francisco on Sunday. Seven different guys caught a pass: Tashard Choice, Kevin Ogletree, Miles Austin, John Phillips, Witten, Jesse Holley and DeMarco Murray. Having diversity in a passing attack makes it difficult on a defense.

** I’m not wondering this anymore, but I did wonder if Stephen McGee would be active at all this season given the changes to the gameday roster rules this year. Now that Romo has a fractured rib and punctured lung, McGee has to be active but once those issues resolve I get the feeling Garrett will keep only Romo and Jon Kitna on the 46-man roster. Carrying a third quarterback is a luxury, especially with so many issues at other positions.

** With four sacks in two games DeMarcus Ware is on pace to have an NFL-record 32 this season. Wow, what a difference Rob Ryan is making on an All-Pro linebacker that has already led the league in sacks twice in the last three seasons. I kid, I kid. But I’m wondering if Ware does not have his third straight two-sack game when he sees Washington’s Rex Grossman on Monday. Ware has sacked only Eli Manning (9) and Donovan McNabb (6.5) more than he has sacked Grossman (4). And that total has come in only two games vs. Grossman. He had two sacks of Grossman on Sept. 23, 2007 vs. Chicago and two sacks of Grossman last December vs. the Redskins.

** Terence Newman says he is playing against the Redskins. The Cowboys believe he is playing against the Redskins. We’ll see if he is practicing Thursday, but I believe Newman is playing against the Redskins, too. Now, can he repeat the performance he had Nov. 16, 2008 vs. the Redskins? Let’s roll back the clock for a moment. On Sept. 28, 2008, Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss had eight catches for 145 yards vs. Dallas and shortly after Newman had sports hernia surgery. He returned after a five-game absence for the rematch and limited Moss to five catches for 29 yards, following him all over the field. Moss, a Cowboy killer, has 11 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown on the season to lead Washington wide receivers. I’m wondering if the Cowboys put Newman on him again.

Jermey Parnell is project early in process

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
3:10
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IRVING, Texas – If Tyron Smith can’t play Sunday night, Jermey Parnell might be the most unlikely Week 1 starter in the NFL.

Parnell didn’t play a down of high school football. He only played one season of college football, and that was as a defensive end.

The 6-foot-6, 306-pound Parnell, a four-year letterman at power forward on Ole Miss’ basketball team, is a project. The Cowboys, who signed him off the Saints’ practice squad last season, saw enough potential and progress from Parnell to keep him over 2010 sixth-round pick Sam Young.

“You certainly see the athletic ability and the arm length and the foot quickness,” Jason Garrett said. “You see that. It’s pretty obvious to see his physical traits, and that’s one of the reasons we were attracted to him. But one of the things you need to see is some football instinct, some football savvy, some understanding of offensive and defensive schemes. And then at the end of it, you need to see some compete in them.

“I think he’s gotten better in all of these areas – understanding how to use his physical ability, his length and his quickness and then understanding what we’re trying to get done and having a little instinct and competitiveness to him. It’s a process for a guy like that.”

At this point in the process, Parnell isn’t well prepared to start against a Rex Ryan defense, but the Cowboys might not have a choice.

Rabid Reaction: Cowboys doomed vs. Jets

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
9:42
AM ET
Rabid Reaction: Our series of knee-jerk-styled, emotional overreactions from Ben Rogers of 103.3 FM ESPN's Ben and Skin Show. He's known to get way too excited over even the slightest of developments with the teams he grew up with in the DFW. Proceed with caution ...

Cowboys optimism has been in short supply around the Metroplex of late. It’s been easier to find a cool breeze inside the swirling volcanic winds of an August Rangers game than it has been to find a teaspoon of belief in America’s Team. This brave column has served as one of the last remaining beacons of Jerry Jones sunshine.

But dark storm clouds are now threatening to choke out even the last glimmers of hope for Cowboys fans as a knee injury outbreak is suddenly ravaging the thinnest positions at Valley Ranch. As fallout from Wednesday’s injury explosion transforms into a giant mushroom cloud of concern, the prospect of a Week 1 win against the New York Jets is slipping away faster than you can say Jermey Parnell.

[+] EnlargeTyron Smith
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireEven if he is ready, do Cowboys fans really trust Tyron Smith protecting Tony Romo against the Jets' voracious front line after the rookie injured his knee in practice Wednesday?
Losing both right tackle Tyron Smith and cornerback Mike Jenkins to hyperextended knees Wednesday leaves a team that was already bony at their respective positions flat out emaciated. Jones and company rolled the dice at tackle and decided to just carry one backup on the roster in Parnell, a converted defensive lineman with extremely limited experience.

Even if Smith is somehow able to Willis Reed his way out of the tunnel for his first game as a pro, do you really want an limping rookie out on the edge trying to protect Tony Romo from a hungry pass rush?

Meanwhile, the ridiculous need to carry two kickers on the roster might have kept the Cowboys from keeping former sixth-round pick Sam Young, whom they waived and had hoped to sign to the practice squad before he was scooped up by the Buffalo Bills.

Oops.

Then, of course, there’s the extreme lack of depth at cornerback to consider. Team officials are hoping MRIs will reveal whether or not Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman are made of expensive porcelain. A source indicates that balsa wood is also a real possibility. All right, that’s not fair. Injuries happen. But rather than be disappointed with the wounded, perhaps you should aim your wrath at those in charge of restocking the empty cupboard. They’re failing miserably.

So with this recent injury news, combined with the lack of up and coming depth on the roster, early season dreams of Cowboy fans are collapsing so fast it would make Leonardo Dicaprio's totem explode.

Throwing in the towel on the season would be extremely premature at this point. Despite the Cowboys' shortcomings, this remains a league full of parity. Having said that, we’re also talking about a team that doesn’t stand a chance against the Jets in Week 1. So feel free to fly the flag of Cowboys optimism this season. Just be advised that you may need to go into hiding until they reach San Francisco soil in Week 2.

On the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies, the Dallas Cowboys are about to walk into a hornets nest of emotion at the Meadowlands to start their season. Not only will they be outmatched by a superior team in a challenging road environment, but they’re also not quite ready to tango as a team. They’re overwhelmed. They’re inexperienced. They’re undermanned. And now to add injury to insult, there are just a few too many key players spending time in the trainer’s room.

0-1.

The Ben and Skin Show airs weekdays from 9 a.m.-noon on 103.3 FM, ESPN in Dallas-Fort Worth. Follow Ben on Twitter: @BenRogers

Sam Young talks in Buffalo

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
9:19
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IRVING - Sam Young played in only two games last season for the Cowboys. Young, a sixth-round pick, was behind Alex Barron as the Cowboys' swing tackle in 2010.

This summer, with Barron gone, Young was beaten out by Jermey Parnell for the swing tackle spot. Yes, Young did make the 53-man roster, but it was clear Parnell had a better camp and preseason. Young was later released as the Cowboys made some moves to the bottom of the roster.

The goal was to bring Young back to the team and add him to the practice squad, where the Cowboys have one spot left, but the Buffalo Bills claimed Young on Tuesday.

"I am trying to learn as fast as I can," Young told reporters in Buffalo on Wednesday. "A lot of new stuff flying at me but I am trying to come out here and do my job as best as I can."

Young did get better as a tackle, especially going against DeMarcus Ware in practice on a daily basis. Cowboys rookie right tackle Tyron Smith takes on Ware in practice every day and that's helped in his development.

"That was the best thing that ever happened to me was being able to go up against him and Anthony Spencer day in and day out," Young said. "He would bull rush me and then he would tell me exactly what he saw, so I am learning from him and bouncing ideas off of him. The guy is as good as it gets so it was a great opportunity for me to learn from him and really to improve."

Buffalo Bills claim Sam Young

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
4:27
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IRVING, Texas -- The Buffalo Bills claimed former Cowboys tackle Sam Young on Tuesday.

Young made the Cowboys' 53-man roster Saturday but was released Monday to make room for veteran guard Derrick Dockery, who is replacing Montrae Holland.

Jermey Parnell had a better preseason than Young, though both players gave up a sack in the finale at Miami.

The Cowboys planned on bringing Young back to the practice squad before he signed with the Bills.

Cowboys release Sam Young

September, 5, 2011
9/05/11
8:49
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The Cowboys released tackle Sam Young on Monday morning to make room on the 53-man roster for Garland native and former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Derrick Dockery.

The Cowboys hope to bring Young back to the practice squad.

Stock Report: DeMarco Murray rises

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
12:34
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After a late night in Miami Gardens, the Cowboys ended their preseason 2-2 after a 17-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. We look at who played well and who didn't in our weekly, but late, Stock Report.

Streaking
STOCK UP

DeMarco Murray. First offensive snap, a screen pass, goes for 48 yards. Murray showed the speed and power game the Cowboys were looking for when they drafted him out of Oklahoma. His totals were 10 carries for 32 yards and four receptions for 64 yards. Will he replace Tashard Choice? No. But he brings another element to the Cowboys offense this season.

Sean Lissemore. At the end of the night, veteran linemen Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff were praising Lissemore and Clifford Geathers. Lissemore led the Cowboys with six tackles and solidified his roster spot as one of the backup defensive ends. He's played well this summer and should get more snaps when the regular season starts.

Phillip Tanner. Jerry Jones said Tanner has made the squad and good for him. He earned it the hard way by battling past Lonyae Miller and taking advantage of the injuries to Murray and Choice. Tanner finished with 28 yards on six carries, but his 4.7 average is what sticks out and his 11 yard gain.

Slumping
STOCK DOWN

Raymond Radway. He was on his way to making this roster until he suffered a broken fibula and tibia with three seconds remaining in the game. Radway didn't play in the first half, but finsihed with three catches for 62 yards before getting hurt. The good news is that Radway can recover from his injuries and play next year.

Backup tackles. Sam Young and Jermey Parnell each gave up a sack in the second half of the loss. While fans and the media were begging the Cowboys to play Young over Marc Colombo last year, now we see why the Cowboys didn't. He's inconsistent and doesn't do well vs. athletic pass rushers. Parnell had one of his worst games of the preseason, but he might have more upside.

Kickers. Where do we begin? David Buehler is wide right on a 48 yarder and Dave Rayner is wide right on a 51 yarder and wide left on a 36-yard attempt. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys know what they're doing with the kickers. Really?

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
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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.

Todd Archer's practice observations

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
6:17
PM ET

* WR Kevin Ogletree came up with a nice grab of a Tony Romo fade pass in the end zone after jabbing inside to get separation from San Diego CB Quentin Jammer.

* OT Sam Young was unable to get to the slot defender in time on a bubble screen to WR Tysson Poots, leaving the wideout with nowhere to run.

* OLB Brandon Williams got off to a slow start in camp and was hampered by a sore back, but he was active against the run during 9-on-7 drills and was a constant force in the backfield against backup QBs Billy Volek and Scott Tolzien.

* WR Dwayne Harris caught the wrath of TE Jason Witten during the first team’s two-minute drill by running the incorrect route. He ended the No. 2 series with a touchdown catch from QB Jon Kitna by working behind CB Marcus Gilchrist in the back of the end zone. Kitna made a nice read by throwing it to Gilchrist’s back shoulder.

* Sometimes the offense gets the benefit of the doubt. Chargers QB Philip Rivers was able to break free for a long run in a two-minute drill, however, it sure looked like he would have been sacked by OLB DeMarcus Ware before he could break contain.

* Rivers likes to work with WR Patrick Crayton. He went to Crayton on two of the first three passes of the two-minute drill, with Crayton working the slot and getting out of bounds.

* Rivers worked the ball underneath on his two-minute drill, finding Mike Tolbert in single coverage against linebackers.

Todd Archer's 53-man roster projection

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
11:39
AM ET
ARLINGTON -- After the first preseason game, here is a guess as to how the Cowboys' 53-man roster could shake out for the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

McGee delivered with a game-winning fourth-quarter drive vs. Denver. He is not pushing Kitna for the No. 2 job just yet but he has shown the ability to make plays when it matters most. Coaches still want him to get rid of the ball faster.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Lonyae Miller

Miller did not show in the game how well he did in camp practices but it’s too early to say he can’t do it. Plus, he can play on all the special teams units. The bigger question with this group is whether all four could be active for games. I don’t see it.

FULLBACK (1)
Chris Gronkowski

I’m not married to this decision but rookie Shaun Chapas has yet to knock out the champ, if you know what I mean. This decision will go down to the final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Phillips took a shot to his knee early on in the game and did not miss a snap, so that is a positive sign for a guy coming back from major surgery. With Bennett out with a hamstring injury it also meant he got a ton of playing time.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Raymond Radway

Harris (two) and Radway (one) were able to produce on the big stage with touchdown catches but in order for them to make an impact in the regular season they will have to show they can handle special teams. Radway’s speed could help as kick returner. Harris can’t dance so much on punts. Jesse Holley is still in the mix because of his coverage skills.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
Doug Free
David Arkin
Andre Gurode
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
Phil Costa
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

When teams begin their cuts the Cowboys will look for some upgrades over the current group, so those last two spots are far from settled. Holland was just paid a $500,000 roster bonus so that makes it difficult to cut him. If the Cowboys want to go for a veteran, like a Brian Waters, they have to think about that sooner rather than later.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

There has been a lot of media speculation about Igor Olshansky’s future but he continues to run with the first team. Economics will play a part in this decision but I don’t think it’s a given. Lissemore has helped himself in camp and can play two spots. Hatcher has also excelled.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings

Where’s Bruce Carter? Don’t worry. He will not be ready to start the season because of the knee injury and thus will not count against the 53. Cummings has done a nice job in camp and is a thumper. Orie Lemon has been a surprise, too, and is in the mix.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

Butler has made a huge leap in his third camp and will be part of Rob Ryan’s sub package defenses. He just has a knack for getting to the quarterback. Brandon Williams has been pretty quiet, which gives Albright a chance to make the final cut. I can see a scenario in which they go with four outside backers.

CORNERBACK (5)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball

The top three are set. The bottom two aren’t, but Thomas has picked it up as of late and has been a first-team gunner on the punt team. That’s an indication he will be in the mix. Ball’s position flexibility helps him here, but he is making $1.2 million and that’s a lot for a No. 5 corner.

SAFETY (5)
Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Andrew Sendejo
Danny McCray

Sendejo gets the final spot among the safeties over Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. I just don’t see the awareness in him to be ready, but he will get the chance to impress as a returner in the preseason. McCray’s shoulder injury is something to keep an eye on too.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Mat McBriar
Dan Bailey
L.P. Ladouceur

Any chance of Corey Adams supplanting Ladouceur as the snapper took a hit when he rolled one back Thursday. David Buehler made a 42-yarder but it was close. Bailey sent every kickoff into the end zone, so, to me, it comes down to consistency in making field goals. Bailey has been more consistent in camp.

Todd Archer's practice observations

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
10:27
PM ET
** Allowed to practice for the first time during camp with the CBA settled, CB Bryan McCann returned punts and kickoffs. Still no sign of Dez Bryant on the punt return team. He could be just a situational guy on punt returns.

** Before the workout, TE Martellus Bennett practiced catching passes with one hand. The other day he mentioned how Tampa Bay’s Kellen Winslow does the same.

** The defense worked on defending Hail Mary plays during its teaching period. Interesting to see LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer double-team a receiver at the line to delay the takeoff before they went to rush the passer.

** The first-team offense ended a two-minute drill without a touchdown when a blitz forced QB Tony Romo to throw the ball earlier than he wanted to WR Dez Bryant. Earlier in the drive, Bryant cut inside and failed to get out of bounds, which kept the clock running. As the play unfolded, Romo yelled to get out of bounds.

** DE Igor Olshansky had a tackle for loss on Lonyae Miller during the inside run portion of practice. With the additions of Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher, Olshansky will have to make more plays like that.

** Romo’s prettiest throw of the day was on a comeback to the wide side of the field to Bryant that was just over the fingertips of Ware. He also had a nice check-off to Miles Austin in the slot when the receiver was able to slide away from CB Orlando Scandrick.

** The No. 1 offense had a bad stretch during a portion of team drills when three plays went like this: Victor Butler sack, mix-up with WR Kevin Ogletree and a dropped deep ball by Jesse Holley, who was practicing for the first time in camp, as well.

** Coleman showed some rust with an offside penalty, but he also showed some force when he shoved OT Sam Young to the ground on a pass rush move that forced an early Jon Kitna throw.

** S Collin Zych forced a fumble on Bennett, knocking the ball free just as Bennett started to turn up field. S Andrew Sendejo picked up the recovery.

** Kickers David Buehler and Dan Bailey made their “mayday” field goals from 44 and 51 yards, respectively, as the coaches put the players through end-of-game situations.

**S Danny McCray had a nice breakup of a pass in the end zone to Jason Witten in the two-minute drill. McCray worked on the first-team dime package.

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