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Cowboys' first 53-man roster outlook

8/31/2013

This is not the Dallas Cowboys’ final 53-man roster. Far from it. It’s their first 53-man roster, and there will be plenty of revisions to come as the Cowboys churn through the bottom of the roster and deal with injuries that inevitably hit during the long NFL season.

Here’s a look at those who survived the cuts to 53:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tony Romo

Kyle Orton

The Cowboys never planned to keep a third quarterback on the roster. It would have taken an absolutely spectacular preseason from Alex Tanney to get the front office and coaches to even consider changing their minds. The hope is that Tanney will clear waivers and return to Valley Ranch as a member of the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

DeMarco Murray

Lance Dunbar

Phillip Tanner

Joseph Randle

It’s hard to see the rookie Randle being active on game days as long as the other backs are healthy. Dunbar appears primed to be a dynamic change-of-pace back once he recovers from his sprained foot, and Tanner is a solid third back who serves as a core special-teams player.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Dez Bryant

Miles Austin

Terrance Williams

Dwayne Harris

Cole Beasley

There wasn’t any room for Anthony Armstrong, although maybe the Cowboys add him after Week 1, when his salary won’t be guaranteed. With a 100-percent Austin, this group can be one of the league’s elite receiver corps.

TIGHT ENDS (5)

Jason Witten

James Hanna

Gavin Escobar

Dante Rosario

Andre Smith

The Cowboys went heavy here, keeping Smith because he’s by far the best blocker among the backups. Could Rosario be trade bait?

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Tyron Smith

Doug Free

Travis Frederick

Ronald Leary

Mackenzy Bernadeau

Jermey Parnell

Phil Costa

Nate Livings

David Arkin

Darrion Weems

Don’t write any of the bottom few names in ink. Livings, whose $1.7 million salary is guaranteed no matter what, has a degenerative knee condition that could prevent him from ever contributing to the Cowboys again. Dallas should be able to find upgrades over Arkin and Weems on the waiver wire or in free agency. They can also trim from this unit to add depth at other positions.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

DeMarcus Ware

Anthony Spencer

Jason Hatcher

Nick Hayden

Sean Lissemore

Ben Bass

Kyle Wilber

George Selvie

Landon Cohen

This is another spot at which the Cowboys need to be aggressive in searching for depth and/or upgrades. They can’t just count on Jay Ratliff coming off the physically unable to perform list six games into the season.

LINEBACKERS (5)

Sean Lee

Bruce Carter

Justin Durant

Ernie Sims

DeVonte Holloman

It’s safe to assume that the Cowboys will add to this group. It’d be crazy to go into a season with only five linebackers, especially considering the durability issues that their best two have dealt with during their careers.

CORNERBACKS (4)

Brandon Carr

Morris Claiborne

Orlando Scandrick

B.W. Webb

This is another spot the Cowboys need to add immediate depth. Sterling Moore was the biggest surprise among the cuts. He had a better camp and preseason than Webb. The Cowboys are high on the fourth-round rookie’s potential, but he’s not ready for prime time right now.

SAFETIES (6)

Barry Church

Will Allen

J.J. Wilcox

Danny McCray

Eric Frampton

Jeff Heath

Heath was the only undrafted rookie to survive cuts. McCray, the special-teams ace, took a significant pay cut to stay in Dallas. Frampton, who also makes six figures, provides a veteran presence who can contribute on special teams and is a more reliable safety than McCray. The Cowboys protected their fourth-round investment in Matt Johnson by putting the injury-prone 2012 pick on injured reserve.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

L.P. LaDouceur

Never any questions here.