Calvin Watkins' Cowboys roster projections

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
1:31
PM ET


Tomorrow the Cowboys finalize their roster.

Tim MacMahon has given you his roster projection. Here's what I think the 53-man roster will look like.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
Tony Romo
Kyle Orton

It's time for Stephen McGee to find another team. If the Cowboys weren't so deep at other positions, I would go with Rudy Carpenter and not McGee.

RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner

Jones hasn't been impressive in the preseason but his roster spot is secure. Lance Dunbar made a late push. Jamize Olawale played well at times. Both could head to practice squad.

FULLBACKS (1)
Lawrence Vickers

There's talk about keeping Shaun Chapas on the 53-man roster for special teams purposes, especially in Week 1 if Jason Witten is out, to curtail the number of snaps for John Phillips. Chapas has improved as a blocker but he misses the cut.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten
John Phillips
James Hanna

Hanna was pretty good in the preseason and is more than a capable backup if Witten doesn't play Wednesday. Phillips looks pretty good and his snap counts will increase if Witten doesn't play.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Cole Beasley
Danny Coale

A tough decision. Andre Holmes is a talented player with upside but he's too inconsistent. I don't believe the Cowboys can get Coale, a fifth-round pick, through waivers. So the team keeps him. Tim Benford showed some signs he can play. Yet, Benford is inconsistent.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Tyron Smith
Doug Free
Nate Livings
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Phil Costa
David Arkin
Jermey Parnell
Derrick Dockery

Ronald Leary was inconsistent, however, the Cowboys like his potential so he'll stay around on the practice squad. If he gets better, he'll move up. Daniel Loper and Dockery are two linemen signed during training camp. Loper's health is an issue. Dockery is healthy. He makes it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Jay Ratliff
Jason Hatcher
Kenyon Coleman
Sean Lissemore
Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford
Josh Brent
Ben Bass

Clifton Geathers' inconsistent play baffles the team. If Ratliff is out, expect Lissemore and Brent to share the snaps at nose tackle. Bass, a rookie from Texas A&M, played well this summer. If the Cowboys want to go heavy at this spot, Bass makes the team over Geathers.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee
Bruce Carter
Dan Connor
Orie Lemon

Lemon's play Wednesday sealed the deal for a roster spot. He's played pretty well the entire preseason. There are some concerns about his special teams work, but he can get better there. Connor struggled in pass coverage and that's an issue moving forward.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Kyle Wilber
Alex Albright

The Cowboys liked what they saw in Wilber, but his hand injury reduced his playing and practice time. Wilber should return to practice in limited form Saturday. Albright played well during the preseason and looked good when he had to blitz. Hamilton, meanwhile, didn't do enough to make the 53. Practice squad is what's best for now.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Brandon Carr
Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins
Mario Butler

Teddy Williams and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah didn't make the cut. Just too inconsistent. Butler was a pleasant surprise. Lionel Smith is probably worth bringing back to the practice squad.


SAFETIES (5)
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Matt Johnson
Mana Silva

The new problem at this position is McCray. He suffered a stinger in the third preseason game and whether he'll be ready for the Giants is a question. Also, Johnson was a ghost this preseason with his hamstring injuries. The Cowboys could place him on injured reserve or cut him and try to bring him back to the practice squad. You don't want to miss out on his playmaking ability. I think he makes it.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Dan Bailey
Chris Jones
L.P. Ladouceur

Ladouceur was challenged slightly in training camp. No biggie, he did his thing. It's worth watching Jones with Mat McBriar on the market. But Jones' other duties keep him on the roster. He's the holder and McBriar doesn't like doing that.
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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