5 wonders: Surprises, undrafted rookies, light at ILB

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
6:03
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Just because the Cowboys set their 53-man roster on Saturday does not mean this will be the roster they take to the Meadowlands on Sept. 11 to play the New York Jets.

There could be a number of changes, but for now we’ll look at the current makeup of the roster and offer up some thoughts.

Biggest surprise

I can’t count the two-kicker magic as a surprise because we’ve talked about it for some time, but I don’t know of anybody who had tight end Martin Rucker making the team. I’m sure the spot came down to Rucker and Jason Pociask. I gave the edge to Pociask because he can play fullback. Rucker’s blocking improved but he does not offer the same flexibility of a John Phillips. This could mean Martellus Bennett will not be ready for the opener because of an ankle injury.

Biggest surprise, runner-ups

Clifton Geathers has all of the measurables you want in a 3-4 defensive end, but will it ever translate to production? I’m not so sure. Seven defensive linemen on the roster seems a little rich. OT Jermey Parnell played well enough to earn a spot, but I don’t think the Cowboys are done maneuvering on their offensive line.

Four undrafted rookies made it

You have to take in the “right now” aspect of the roster, but Dan Bailey will be the kicker, Alex Albright outplayed Brandon Williams for a backup outside linebacker spot and running back Phillip Tanner just took a roster spot with his play. Center Kevin Kowalski is probably helped by Phil Costa’s knee injury, although he did pretty well vs. Minnesota and Miami.

Two draft picks didn’t

Josh Thomas, a fifth-round pick, was done in because of a hamstring injury that prevented him from playing against the Dolphins. He’ll probably be on the practice squad. Shaun Chapas, a seventh rounder, was hurt by Bennett’s injury. He seemed to play better in the games than in practice. I can see him getting a call up to the roster soon if he makes it to the practice squad.

A little light

This was part of my last projection, so I can’t call it a surprise, but taking only three inside linebackers to the 53-man roster is a little light. Bradie James was slowed last week by an ankle injury. Keith Brooking missed most of camp with a hamstring injury. Sean Lee was banged up a lot last year as a rookie but hasn’t missed any time this year. Kenwin Cummings had a chance to win a spot but could not nail it down. Orie Lemon could be back on the practice squad.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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