Vol. VI: 53-man roster projection

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
9:00
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Let's take one last stab at projecting the 53-man roster after watching the preseason finale and talking to a few folks who have some say in the decision-making process.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
Tony Romo
Kyle Orton
It would have been nice if Stephen McGee said goodbye. He bolted the locker room before the media was granted access after the preseason finale.

RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner
There’s a lot to like about little Lance Dunbar. The Cowboys hope he can develop for a season on the practice squad.

FULLBACKS (2)
Lawrence Vickers
Shaun Chapas
Why Chapas? He can fill John Phillips’ roles on special teams if Jason Witten misses the season opener. Cut him after Week 1 to address depth on the offensive line.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
John Phillips
James Hanna
The only question here is whether Witten will be able to play against the Giants. It makes no sense to acquire a veteran such as ex-Redskin Chris Cooley. He couldn’t learn the Cowboys’ system in time to help in the opener, and there is no concern about Witten’s spleen injury being a long-term issue.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Cole Beasley
Andre Holmes
The Cowboys will probably take the gamble that fifth-round pick Danny Coale will clear waivers and be available for the practice squad. They cut their fifth-round pick last season. Cornerback Josh Thomas got claimed, but it’s not as if the Cowboys are kicking themselves for that decision. As inconsistent as Holmes is, he has more potential than Coale and was more productive this preseason.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Tyron Smith
Doug Free
Nate Livings
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Phil Costa
David Arkin
Jermey Parnell
Derrick Dockery
They guaranteed $214,000 of Ronald Leary’s salary, but he can be one of the NFL’s highest-paid practice squad players. He admittedly struggled during the preseason. They’ll need a tackle on the practice squad, too. The Cowboys will go lighter here than they have in the recent past, when they’ve typically kept 10 offensive linemen.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff
Jason Hatcher
Kenyon Coleman
Sean Lissemore
Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford
Josh Brent
You can only be a pet cat for so long. At some point, you’ve got to make plays to show progress and hope that the potential is developing. Clifton Geathers hasn’t done that. Spears and Coleman should be on the roster -- unless perhaps the Cowboys can get value in a trade for one of them.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee
Bruce Carter
Dan Connor
Orie Lemon
The pick six didn’t necessarily get Lemon off the bubble. There are concerns about his ability to contribute on special teams. The Cowboys could go light here because of Alex Albright’s versatility. But Lemon has earned some fans in the front office this summer.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Kyle Wilber
Alex Albright
Sorry, Adrian Hamilton fans. The numbers just don’t work in his favor and the Cowboys have no confidence he can help on special teams. Having said that, you can never have enough pass rushers, which makes it risky cutting Hamilton and hoping to sign him to the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Brandon Carr
Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins
Mario Butler
The only drama here is whether Mike Jenkins, who can start practicing Saturday, will be ready to play against the Giants. If he is, what’s his role?

SAFETIES (5)
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Matt Johnson
Mana Silva
Johnson’s tender hamstrings have the Cowboys in a tough spot. He’s hardly practiced, but he’s not seriously injured. They might discuss putting him on the injured reserve, but they’d much rather not waste the rookie season of a fourth-round pick. They don’t want to expose him to waivers. With Mario Butler getting some work at safety, Silva could be the odd man out.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Dan Bailey
Chris Jones
L.P. Ladouceur
Mat McBriar is available again if the Cowboys aren’t confident in Jones.

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