Vol. 2: Archer's roster projection

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
11:00
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With two preseason games down and two to go, here is the second look at how the Cowboys' 53-man roster could look for the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No surprises here, but it was a little curious that Kitna saw only one drive of work vs. the Chargers. Maybe he will play more vs. Minnesota on Saturday.

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

I’m sticking with Miller because of his work on special teams, although Phillip Tanner has helped himself a lot with his work in practice and the games. He also was in on a special teams tackle. If he can show the coaches he can be a factor as a cover guy, then he could bump Miller. Until he does it, I’m sticking with Miller.

FULLBACK (1)
Shaun Chapas

Last week it was Chris Gronkowski. I thought Chapas was better vs. the Chargers but I think there is a high possibility the Cowboys will go with four tight ends on the 53-man roster and hope to get Chapas on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Bennett led the Cowboys with three catches for 33 yards, but he had a big drop of what would have been a touchdown grab. Phillips is a mainstay here because he can play fullback. If they keep a fourth tight end, I don’t think that player is in the building yet.

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

Ogletree handled himself fine in the start because of Austin’s absence with a mild hamstring strain. He is a smooth player but needs to find some consistency. After a big night vs. Denver, Harris did not have a catch and didn’t play much. Manny Johnson made two catches and is not out of the mix for the last spot either. In reading between the lines on comments made by Jason Garrett, I don’t think it looks good for Jesse Holley.

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

No changes in this group, but at first glance offensive line/running game coordinator Hudson Houck liked Nagy’s work with the first team at left guard. I think this could be the week Phil Costa gets some guard work or Andre Gurode slides over. I think the Cowboys still could look for more veteran interior help once cuts start coming down.

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

Brent was shaky vs. San Diego, but I don’t think it jeopardizes his spot. Spears’ groin strain and Hatcher’s toe injury are not considered serious, so I don’t think it changes Igor Olshansky’s future. Coleman is now working with the first team and Olshansky’s $3.3 million salary puts him on the bubble.

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

I’m tempted to add Orie Lemon to this mix but I don’t know what other spot to cut from. Maybe offensive line? I still believe Bruce Carter will be a physically-unable-to-perform guy and miss the first six weeks.

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

Same group as last week. Albright was on the first-team kick coverage, which tells you the coaches want to see how he can perform there. He was extremely active and made three tackles at outside linebacker. Brandon Williams was better in practice late last week but needs to turn it on.

CORNERBACK (6)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

I’ve added McCann to the mix over undrafted rookie Mario Butler. McCann is working the first team nickel with injuries to Newman and Jenkins. He has better speed than Butler but by no means is the rookie out of the battle.

SAFETY (4)
Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Andrew Sendejo is the only change. It’s down to a sixth corner vs. a fifth safety, and I went with the corner because of the injuries to Newman and Jenkins. Church has cemented his spot.

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

Same as last week in part because David Buehler has a hip strain and did not play vs. San Diego. He’s hoping to be back to practice this week. Bailey did not get a field goal attempt but seemed to overcome a poor start to practice last week with good work vs. the Chargers.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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