Version 7.0: 53-man roster projection

August, 30, 2010
8/30/10
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The focus during Thursday night's preseason finale will probably be on the series or two that the starters end up playing. But a handful of roster spots are still up for grabs.

After the NFL's longest training camp and four preseason games, here's the way we see the 53-man roster shaping up:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

If Stephen McGee stinks it up Thursday night, he could get cut. But the Cowboys don’t want to give up on a second-year quarterback with arm strength, athletic ability, intelligence and character.

RUNNING BACKS (3): Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice

[+] EnlargeTashard Choice
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTashard Choice could cut into Marion Barber's playing time.
When will Choice cut into Barber’s playing time? Judging by preseason results, it should be soon.

FULLBACKS (2): Deon Anderson, Chris Gronkowski

Gronkowski is more versatile than any of the third tight end candidates. Anderson is a better special teams player.

TIGHT ENDS (2): Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett

They might opt to keep Martin Rucker instead of a second fullback. But does this team really need a finesse tight end?

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree

If I’m making the decisions, Sam Hurd stays as the sixth receiver and special teams demon. But the front office will factor in finances, and $1.8 million is a lot to pay a receiver who won’t crack the rotation.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Marc Colombo, Doug Free, Alex Barron, Montrae Holland, Robert Brewster, Sam Young, Phil Costa

Young doesn’t need to sweat as he starts his rehab after spraining his knee Saturday night. He’s done enough to earn a roster spot.

NOSE TACKLES (2): Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent

Jerry Jones insists the Cowboys could keep both backup nose tackles, but that doesn’t make much sense given that Ratliff rarely leaves the field. Brent’s potential bumps Junior Siavii off the roster.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (4): Igor Olshansky, Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher

Hatcher didn’t do anything this preseason to claim Spears’ starting job. Spears expects to return to practice this week and be ready to roll against the Redskins.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, Steve Octavien

[+] EnlargeKeith Brooking
Larry French/Getty ImagesKeith Brooking might not get much rest with Sean Lee and Jason Williams as the backup inside linebackers.
If Hurd goes, it opens up a spot for Octavien, another of special teams coach Joe DeCamillis’ favorites.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4): Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, Jason Williams

The biggest question is who will replace Bobby Carpenter in the nickel. It was supposed to be Lee, but he’s still playing catch-up after missing two games with a strained quad. Williams makes too many mistakes. Can the Cowboys count on Brooking to play almost every down?

CORNERBACKS (4): Mike Jenkins, Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Cletis Gordon
Bryan McCann would be a tough cut, but the Cowboys can afford to go light on corners due to the position flexibility of a couple of the safeties.

SAFETIES (6): Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball, Michael Hamlin, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Barry Church, Danny McCray

McCray’s audition as a nickel linebacker didn’t go well, but he’s good enough on special teams to stick on the roster. He has potential to be another Bill Bates/Kenny Gant/Keith Davis type.

SPECIALISTS (3): Mat McBriar, David Buehler, L.P. Ladouceur

It’d be a heck of a lot easier to evaluate Buehler if he actually got to kick a field goal in the final preseason game. He’s gone two weeks without an attempt.

PRACTICE SQUAD: CB Bryan McCann, OG Travis Bright, WR Jesse Holley, DL Sean Lissemore, CB Teddy Williams, RB Lonyae Miller, CB Jamar Wall, OG Mike Tepper.

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