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Friday, September 2, 2011
Vol. 4: Archer's roster projection

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- The preseason is over and the Cowboys have to make 17 roster moves by Saturday to make the 53-man limit. Here’s what the final cuts– though not necessarily the final roster that faces the New York Jets on Sept. 11 - could look like:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No changes from the previous three projections. Tom Brandstater could be a practice squad guy.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Felix Jones
Tashard Choice
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner

Tanner did everything he could to make the final roster, so could Choice be on the bubble? It’s difficult to think they could go with two rookies as the backups to Jones, but stranger things have happened.

FULLBACK (1)

Jason Pociask

I’m not sure Pociask won the job or if he got it because he can play tight end in a pinch, which is a bonus because of Martellus Bennett’s ankle injury. Chapas got better later and should find his way to the practice squad if Pociask is the pick. Gronkowski did a nice job on special teams in the preseason but he gets caught in a numbers’ game.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

No changes here and there is hope Bennett could be ready for the opener vs. the Jets.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Jesse Holley

Holley’s special teams experience gives him the edge but he also showed he can possibly help as a receiver. Harris went quiet after a huge debut vs. Denver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Doug Free
Bill Nagy
Phil Costa
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
David Arkin
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Kevin Kowalski
TBD

Look for a waiver-wire pickup to claim that last spot. I went back and forth on Kowalski, who helped himself with his work in the final two games. With Kosier as the game-day backup at center and Nagy having taken snaps at center in camp there is more of a need at tackle to fill out the back end of this group.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

If you go on position flexibility then Lissemore wins that final spot because he can play end and nose. If you’re looking for the prototype 3-4 end to grow as the year progresses then Clifton Geathers is that guy.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3)

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee

Kenwin Cummings loses out on the final spot on the roster and is hurt the most by having two kickers. You have to go light somewhere but I think I’m taking a risk at such a physical spot. With Bruce Carter expected to return after six weeks, I feel OK about this move.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

The toughest call was between Albright and Cummings. Albright got the edge because of his upside even if he is practice squad eligible.

CORNERBACK (6)

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann
Mario Butler

Josh Thomas picked the wrong time to get a hamstring injury, which gives Butler the final cornerback spot. Thomas, if he clears waivers, would go to the practice squad. McCann looks like he’ll be the kick returner on opening day.

SAFETY (4)

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

Church is more ready to play every down on defense than McCray, who is the better special teamer. Last year’s fourth round pick, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah comes up short in his bid to make the club.

SPECIALISTS (4)

Mat McBriar
Shayne Graham
David Buehler
L.P. Ladouceur

Graham was helped the most by not kicking Thursday. Dave Rayner missed two kicks in his audition. Buehler missed one. How could the organization have confidence going into the Jets’ game? Buehler at least can handle kickoffs. Keeping two kickers did not seem like an option, especially with kickoffs coming from the 35, but if Buehler can produce touchbacks at a high clip then offenses will have to go 80 yards for a touchdown.