Vol. 5: MacMahon's 53-man roster projection

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
9:32
AM ET
This is my fifth 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 will play most of the preseason finale. The Cowboys hope those are the last game snaps he’ll take until next preseason.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Felix Jones
DeMarco Murray
Tashard Choice
Phillip Tanner

A bruised knee prevents Choice from getting a final chance to prove he deserves a roster spot. However, Murray’s lack of practice reps makes it risky to go without a veteran backup for Jones. It would also be risky to try to get Tanner to the practice squad after a stellar preseason.

FULLBACKS (1)
Jason Pociask

The Cowboys aren’t excited about any of the fullbacks, so Pociask’s position flexibility could be the determining factor. He’s a tight end who moved to fullback during training camp.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Maybe Bennett’s high ankle sprain, which is expected to sideline him 2-4 weeks, opens a roster spot for Martin Rucker.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Jesse Holley
Dwayne Harris

Holley has shown significant progress as a receiver the last two weeks, which was necessary with the new kickoff rules decreasing his value as a special-teams ace. There is still a possibility that the Cowboys could look for a veteran third receiver after final cuts or Week 1. There is also a chance undrafted track star Raymond Radway beats out Harris.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Doug Free
Kyle Kosier
Phil Costa
Montrae Holland
Tyron Smith
Sam Young
David Arkin
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

Kosier and Nagy have worked at center, and one would slide over from guard if Costa can’t play. Kevin Kowalski is a prime practice squad candidate.

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

Clifton Geathers, who has the ideal frame for a 3-4 defensive end, is a sleeper. It’d be surprising if Igor Olshansky, a $3.4 million backup, isn’t cut in a business decision.

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

Bruce Carter was put on the non-football injury reserved list this week, meaning he’s out for at least the first six weeks. Orie Lemon’s hamstring injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the undrafted rookie.

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

It’s time for Brandon Williams to join the long line of 2009 draft picks the Cowboys cut.

CORNERBACKS (6)
Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann
Mario Butler

Josh Thomas’ hamstring injury also came at a terrible time. Plus, he has been outplayed by McCann and Butler throughout training camp and the preseason. Can the Cowboys get a fifth-round pick on the practice squad?

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

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah needs to stand out against the Dolphins to save his job.

SPECIALISTS (4)
Mat McBriar
Dave Rayner
David Buehler
L.P. Ladouceur

Keeping two kickers is far from ideal, but Jason Garrett strongly hinted that it would be seriously considered. Even with the new kickoff rules, Buehler is the only one in the Cowboys’ kicker army who can consistently put the ball in the end zone. Too bad he isn’t consistent on field goals.

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