NFC East: Alonzo Coleman
IRVING -- The Blue parking lot at Texas Stadium was full about an hour earlier than usual tonight. Cars were shoe polished with messages such as "Farewell to Texas Stadium" and "We'll always remember you."
And it seems that more than 1,000 people have secured VIP pre-game field passes. Camera flashes are going off throughout the stadium -- and many of them were pointed at Roger Staubach as he made his way to the NFL Network set. The only thing that would make this better is if the Cowboys were actually playing a rival. The Ravens are playing for the first and last time at Texas Stadium.
After the game, more than 100 former players will participate in a closing ceremony. I'm a little surprised Jerry Jones opted to wait until after the game to hold the ceremony. If the Cowboys lose, I can't imagine a lot of fans sticking around to watch.
Tony Romo and Terrell Owens just ran onto the field together and received a pretty nice ovation. Pacman Jones just ran the length of the field to hug Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith. Not sure what to read into that development.
Here's a look at all the inactives:
IRVING, Texas -- We've already told you about Cowboys running back Marion Barber being active for tonight's game. The other big news is that Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins (shoulder) won't play. With Brandon Jacobs and Robbins out, the Giants lose two excellent players.
Wide receiver Domenik Hixon is active, so that's a bit of good news for Giants fans. Here's the rest of the Giants' inactives:
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As ESPN's Ed Werder reported earlier today, Cowboys running back Marion Barber (toe) didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh and will be replaced Sunday by rookie Tashard Choice. We'd told you earlier in the week how worried the Cowboys' medical staff was about Barber's right pinkie toe -- and he wasn't able to practice all week.
The Cowboys tried to modify Barber's shoe to provide comfort and stability, but nothing seemed to work. Werder reports that the team even commissioned Nike to design a specific shoe at the last minute, but he never had a chance to try it on since it was waiting on him at the team hotel.
Playing in temperatures that should reach the low 20s and the strong possibility of snow, the Cowboys were hoping to lean heavily on the punishing Barber. Now, they must turn to Choice, a fourth-round pick out of Georgia Tech. A longtime NFC scout told me Friday that Choice is well-equipped for running in poor field conditions because he keeps his feet close to the ground.
But the bigger fear for the Cowboys is Choice's lack of experience in picking up the blitz. Even for veteran backs, the Steelers' blitz can be confusing. The absence of Barber could force tight end Jason Witten to stay in and block a lot more than usual. That would take another important weapon away from Tony Romo.
With Barber out, the Steelers should be able to focus more on stopping the Cowboys' passing game. The Cowboys' offensive line feeds off Barber's boundless energy. His ability to tack on yards after contact takes pressure off the line.
With Choice and former Hampton star Alonzo Coleman in the backfield, the line needs to be close to perfect. That's not something that usually occurs against the Steelers' top-ranked defense. I still think it's going to be fairly close, but it's a major setback for the Cowboys.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Cowboys have room for one more player on their eight-man practice squad, and I'm told that it will be quarterback Richard Bartel, who had an excellent showing in the final exhibition game against the Vikings.
Brooks Bollinger didn't play well for the Vikings in that game, but he'll probably be added to the Cowboys' 53-man roster after the season-opener against Cleveland. At that point, Bartel will be released from the practice squad. If the Cowboys signed Bollinger now, his salary for the 2008 season would be guaranteed.
It's a little surprising to see that the Cowboys would let another talented young quarterback get away. Last year, they tried to sneak Matt Moore through to the practice squad, but the Panthers signed him and he eventually became their starter.
Bartel has size (6-3, 233) and a live arm. Bollinger (6-1, 205) has more experience after playing for the Jets and Vikings over the past five seasons. He and Cowboys backup Brad Johnson played together in Minnesota.
Here's the rest of the Cowboys' practice squad:
DE Marcus Dixon
For those of you who've been e-mailing me about Erik Walden, he was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs. I know a couple of people at Valley Ranch who weren't happy about Walden getting cut in the first place.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
After talking to a couple people with the Cowboys, here's a list of the guys who I think will be cut. Coming down the stretch, cornerbacks Evan Oglesby and Alan Ball were in a dogfight for a roster spot. Still don't have a great feel for what will happen there, but a conversation last night led me to believe there was hope for Ball. But he's still getting cut on my list:
The Mosley cuts:
Todd Lowber, WR (not even "Hard Knocks" could save this talented but RAW kid.)
Danny Amendola, WR (prime practice squad candidate.)
Mark Bradford, WR (not familiar with his work.)
James Marten, G (this is the only slight surprise. Marten was a third-round draft choice in 2007.)
Adam Stenavich, G (Adam, we hardly knew ya. He was cut to make room for Larry Allen to retire as a Cowboy.)
Ryan Gibbons, C (no real need for a third-team center.)
Rodney Hannah, TE (did some really nice things late in camp. If you can keep him on the practice squad, do it. Great size and played under an excellent college coach named Art Briles.)
Drew Atchison, TE (nice effort during camp, but not enough.)
Julius Crosslin, FB (never met him.)
Alonzo Coleman, RB (flashed at times in practice and might help on practice squad.)
Keon Lattimore, RB (Ray Ray's going to be upset.)
Junior Siavii, NT (Cowboys hoping to drum up some trade interest. This guy could help someone.)
Marcus Dixon, DE (never could get on the field because of an injury.)
Darrell Robertson, LB (had his moments, but this team's OK at linebacker.)
Tyson Smith, LB (best known for getting lit up by Marion Barber on "Hard Knocks.")
Tearrius George, LB (flashed against the Vikings the other night, but a little too late.)
Erik Walden, LB (If Alan Ball and Evan Oglesby both make the team, something has to give. And even though Walden has some huge supporters at Valley Ranch, I'm afraid he'd be the guy to go.)
Dowayne Davis, SS (It's too bad because he did some serious damage during camp. And I love his name.)
A lot of people have third-team quarterback Richard Bartel getting cut, but as of this morning, he was on the 53-man roster.