Monday, August 26, 2013
Vol. VI: 53-man roster projection
By Tim MacMahon
There are just two tweaks from last week's projection. New players are marked by asterisks.
Ideally, Alex Tanney will clear waivers and land on the practice squad. No matter what he does in the preseason finale, it won’t be enough to convince the Cowboys to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Tanner, a core special teams player and the epitome of a Jason Garrett Right Kind of Guy, would probably have had a roster spot regardless. Dunbar’s sprained foot, which could sideline him for the season opener, eliminated any doubt.
It took me six editions to get Armstrong on the roster, but the Cowboys keep running him out there on first-team special teams units, a pretty strong sign he’s got a good chance to make the team. He can help more than a 10th offensive lineman.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
The Cowboys are committed to featuring two-tight end packages, so they’ll keep four at this position. The problem is that none of the tight ends behind Witten are adequate blockers.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Jerry Jones revealing that Nate Livings has a degenerative knee condition seems to be foreshadowing of the Cowboys eating his $1.7 million salary. This is an especially dicey group if Leary isn’t recovered from his knee scope in time to start the season opener. Maybe they won’t make the necessary upgrade in their offer to sign six-time Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters, but the Cowboys will certainly take a close look at the waiver wire.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
Biggest question here: Will Ratliff begin the season on the physically unable to perform list? Jones essentially ruled Ratliff out of practice this week and said his status for the season opener was in doubt. Considering Jones’ longstanding confidence that Ratliff would be ready for Week 1, that could be considered a sign that the former Pro Bowl is far from playing.
A concussion has sidelined Magee, but the hunch here is that the front office and coaching staff are enamored enough by his potential to keep him. Caleb McSurdy could make that decision difficult.
If Claiborne’s knee continues to be an issue, could the Cowboys search for veteran help here?
If it’s about an honest evaluation, the Cowboys have to keep Heath, an undrafted afterthought he had caught the coaches’ attention long before his huge fumble-forcing hit Saturday night. He’s an example of Jason Garrett’s injuries-are-opportunities mantra, taking advantage of the reps he received because Matt Johnson and Eric Frampton got hurt. Maybe Johnson will land on the practice squad. The Cowboys can’t justify giving him a roster spot again after he watched from the sideline while Heath made plays.
This is as set in stone as the quarterbacks.