Scout's Eye: Defensive line depth

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
10:40
AM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- In my view, there is a good chance that the Cowboys will carry six defensive linemen on the roster when the club has to cut the roster to 53 players on Sept. 3.

Scout's Eye
The makeup of that roster should be two nose tackles, Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent, with four ends. Which four will be an area that the front office and coaches will try to work through this preseason.

The Cowboys currently have Igor Olshansky, Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman and Sean Lissemore lining up at end starting on Thursday, when the entire squad can practice for the first time since the final week of the 2010 season. Of those five names, one of them will not make this squad.

When Stephen Bowen signed with the Redskins for a deal that the Cowboys were not willing to match or even get close to, it put the team in a bind when it came to the talent level at that position. In my grand plan for the team, Bowen and Spears would have been re-signed. Bowen gives you flexibility at the position in his ability to play as a base defensive end but slide inside for nickel pass rush work over guards.

Of this current group, I do not see that type of player on the roster. In studying the group and focusing more on the younger players at end, there are no players that stand out like there is on the offensive line that give you hope for the future. Lissemore is a try-hard, slugger type of player that could hold a spot on your roster in a reserve role. Other than that, there is no one.

Clifton Geathers, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, Alex Daniels and Billy Blackard are not doing anything when given the opportunity that makes me feel like they should be considered serviceable backups. When you study the offensive line, you see younger, more talented players that have a future with the team.

In the big picture every team wants that “War Daddy” at end that can be dominant at the point of attack and a factor in the overall scheme. This year will be about holding it together with a group of veteran players and working the 2012 draft in a way like they did in 2011 to help the offensive line.

*Terence Newman left the practice field with a groin injury that will most likely sideline him the entire preseason and could affect how he plays in the upcoming season.

Newman has had a history of these types of injuries. It’s not because he doesn’t work out or train to do his job.

Newman’s body type is that of a track athlete that is wound very tight in his with very low body fat. These types of athletes have to do everything in their power to take measures to try to prepare their bodies for the every-day wear and tear of their jobs. Stretching, yoga, core work, running in pool -- anything to get their muscles to respond in a positive way.

Newman just hasn’t been able to catch a break when it comes to the tightness he has had in groin and probably always will.

For the Cowboys, what is the next move? Nickel corner Orlando Scandrick will be moved into Newman’s spot and will once again have the opportunity to see if he can handle that job as a starter and to prove to the club his continued value after this season, when his contract is up.

Alan Ball will also move into a backup role here. For Ball, it will be a welcomed change from what he went through last season as the starter at free safety. Ball showed no awareness for the safety position, which is a trait that he once had when he played corner.

The one thing Ball can do is cover. He understands that part of the game but also needs to work on his ability to tackle.

Josh Thomas is a player I really liked on college film, and he has had his moments of good along with bad in camp. The scouts are very high on him, so he will see action in that spot as well.

Do not feel that the team will go get another player off the street to help with the position but will study the waiver wire each night and determine if there is a player that fits what they are trying to do.

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