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Vol. IV: 53-man roster projection

8/20/2012

The fourth weekly attempt to predict the Cowboys' 53-man roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tony Romo

Kyle Orton

It makes no sense to keep Stephen McGee. Rudy Carpenter has looked better and has practice squad eligibility.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

DeMarco Murray

Felix Jones

Phillip Tanner

Jones’ job should be in jeopardy. Five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode got axed in the cut to 53 last year after reporting to camp in poor shape. Why should Jones be exempt? The problem is that would leave the Cowboys with virtually no experience behind DeMarco Murray, whose durability issues have been well chronicled. Jamize Olawale, the former North Texas reserve receiver-turned-fullback who has performed well after an emergency move to tailback, is pushing for a roster spot.

FULLBACKS (1)

Lawrence Vickers

Only question at this position is how many snaps Vickers will get per game.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten

John Phillips

James Hanna

Hanna has been a pleasant surprise. The Cowboys might have gotten a sixth-round steal with the speedy ex-Sooner, whose blocking has been better than anticipated.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Miles Austin

Dez Bryant

Kevin Ogletree

Dwayne Harris

Andre Holmes

Cole Beasley

Ogletree, the only reserve receiver with an NFL catch on his résumé, has a firm grasp on the No. 3 role after his excellent performance Saturday night. The other two or three roster spots are very much up for grabs. Don’t think being a fifth-round pick guarantees a roster spot for Danny Coale, who has hardly practiced due to injuries. The Cowboys cut fifth-round cornerback Josh Thomas last summer.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Tyron Smith

Doug Free

Nate Livings

Mackenzy Bernadeau

Phil Costa

David Arkin

Jermey Parnell

Ronald Leary

Derrick Dockery

Pat McQuistan

When will the Cowboys start worrying about Phil Costa’s back? He was the weakest link on the line last season, so it’s not as if he doesn’t need the practice reps and preseason. There just aren’t any better center options available.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)

Jay Ratliff

Jason Hatcher

Sean Lissemore

Marcus Spears

Tyrone Crawford

Josh Brent

Clifton Geathers

Can the Cowboys get anything on the trade market for Spears or Kenyon Coleman? Count on them trying to find out.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Sean Lee

Bruce Carter

Dan Connor

Orie Lemon

Seventh-round pick Caleb McSurdy’s torn Achilles' tendon might have earned him some money. He was unlikely to make the team, but he’s now probably headed for injured reserve.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)

DeMarcus Ware

Anthony Spencer

Victor Butler

Kyle Wilber

Alex Albright

Does Wilber’s thumb injury and Albright’s position flexibility create room on the roster for undrafted pass-rusher Adrian Hamilton?

CORNERBACKS (5)

Brandon Carr

Morris Claiborne

Mike Jenkins

Orlando Scandrick

Mario Butler

If Jenkins starts the season on the physically unable to perform list, the Cowboys might need to look hard at the waiver wire for some cornerback help.

SAFETIES (4)

Gerald Sensabaugh

Barry Church

Danny McCray

Matt Johnson

Not a good sign for Mana Silva that Johnson jumped in with the second-team defense after returning to practice Monday.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

Charley Hughlett

If the Cowboys pinched pennies on a punter, why not on a long snapper?