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Vol. 4: MacMahon's 53-man roster projection

8/24/2011

This is my fourth weekly educated guess at what the Cowboys' 53-man roster will look like after final cuts.

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo

Jon Kitna

Stephen McGee

McGee’s chance to move up the depth chart should come next season, when he might be competing against a mid-round draft pick.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones

DeMarco Murray

Tashard Choice

Phillip Tanner

Tanner, based on his outstanding preseason performance, would probably be much tougher than Lonyae Miller to get through waivers to the practice squad. The helmetless would-be touchdown made the highlights, but Tanner’s tackle on punt coverage also caught the coaches’ eyes.

FULLBACKS (1)

Chris Gronkowski

This will be a difficult decision for the Cowboys. It’s not necessarily choosing which fullback to keep. It’s deciding whether to keep a fullback. None of them have been impressive.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten

Martellus Bennett

John Phillips

They could go heavier here if they decide not to keep a fullback. Phillips’ versatility makes that a feasible option.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin

Dez Bryant

TBD

Kevin Ogletree

Dwayne Harris

Ogletree probably needs a good two weeks to keep the Cowboys from looking for a proven upgrade on the waiver wire. The new kickoff rules could cost Jesse Holley a job.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Doug Free

Kyle Kosier

Andre Gurode

Montrae Holland

Tyron Smith

Sam Young

David Arkin

Phil Costa

Bill Nagy

Jermey Parnell

The drama here is whether Nagy, the seventh-round pick who wasn’t a starter at Wisconsin, can earn the left guard job over overweight Holland.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Jay Ratliff

Marcus Spears

Kenyon Coleman

Josh Brent

Jason Hatcher

Sean Lissemore

Minor injuries to Spears (groin) and Hatcher (toe) shouldn’t be enough to justify keeping Igor Olshansky and his $3.4 million salary.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Bradie James

Keith Brooking

Sean Lee

Kenwin Cummings

Bruce Carter is expected to start the season on the PUP list as he continues to rehab after knee surgery. Undrafted rookie Orie Lemon has a chance to make the roster, but he didn’t help his cause by being caught out of position on two touchdowns against the Chargers, including the screen pass that was called back.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

DeMarcus Ware

Anthony Spencer

Victor Butler

Alex Albright

Still waiting on Brandon Williams, a fourth-round pick in 2009, to make plays that prove he deserves a roster spot. Albright seems to do something every practice to stand out.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Terence Newman

Mike Jenkins

Orlando Scandrick

Alan Ball

Josh Thomas

Mario Butler

It makes sense to go with six corners with the starters both dealing with injuries. Butler, an undrafted rookie, is getting better as camp goes on. He’s bigger and has been better than Bryan McCann.

SAFETIES (4)

Abram Elam

Gerald Sensabaugh

Barry Church

Danny McCray

If they aren’t ready to give up on Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, they could go with five safeties. But he hasn’t done anything so far in camp to earn a job.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Mat McBriar

Shayne Graham

L.P. Ladouceur

Graham, the third-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, became the favorite by default once the ink was dry on his one-year deal.