Position battles: Roster cuts are forthcoming

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
2:34
PM ET


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys have 83 players on their training camp roster and on Aug. 30, the Cowboys along with every other NFL team has to cut the numbers down to 80.

Then on Sept. 1, the Cowboys visit the Miami Dolphins for the final preseason game of the year.

Coach Jason Garrett said the first-team offense and defenses will play the bulk of the first half and if necessary the third quarter of Saturday's preseason game at Minnesota. For players trying to make the team, the fourth quarter of the Vikings game and the final preseason game at Miami is a chance for young players to prove themselves.

A look at some battles among the younger players:

Fullback:Chris Gronkowski, Shaun Chapas and Jason Pociask are competing for maybe one job. Running backs coach Skip Peete said this group has to block better. If not, expect the Cowboys to possibly keep four tight ends. The fourth tight end might be Martin Rucker, who has improved as a blocker and receiver.

Wide receiver:The No. 3 receiver spot is Kevin Ogletree's after that Dwayne Harris, Raymond Radway, Manuel Johnson and Jesse Holley are seeking two more spots. Harris had two touchdowns in the preseason opener, but no catches in the second preseason game. Holley is growing as a receiver and could make the team again as a special teams ace.

Running back:Tashard Choice has looked good in his return from a calf injury this week. Phillip Tanner surpassed Lonyae Miller in terms of production, but the fourth running back could be a practice squad candidate. Whoever plays well among Tanner and Miller most likely gets it.

Offensive line:The swing tackle could be Sam Young or Jermey Parnell. However, Kevin Kowalski could also make this roster at guard. He replaced a benched Pepa Letuli in the second preseason game. Andre Gurode is the starting center, but Garrett said that might change with the good work of Phil Costa.

Linebacker:The big five are Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Victor Butler has played well in camp and seems assured a roster spot. Bruce Carter won't be available because he's still recovering from knee surgery. Carter could start the season on the PUP and then is out for six weeks. How many linebackers to keep is a question. Alex Albright, Kenwin Cummings, Orie Lemon and Brandon Williams are in the mix to make the roster at either inside or outside linebacker.

Secondary:Mario Butler and Bryan McCann are two young corners fighting with draft pick Josh Thomas for the fourth corner position. McCann and Thomas could make the roster. McCann due to his special teams work and Thomas because he's got more potential than Butler. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, in only his second season, might be on the bubble at safety. Danny McCray has played well at times and Andrew Sendejo has to play better the next two weeks.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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