Currently rosters are at 75 but must be down to 53 on Friday. For Dallas that means 22 players must be cut with precious few spots available on the 53 man roster. Based on the performances of some on the bubble players in the final preseason game Wednesday night, the decisions of whom to cut are not going to be easy. I don’t envy the coaches making these choices.
Several players had good games against the Dolphins and will make the Cowboys staff think twice about cutting them.
Let’s have a look at the guys who just may have played their way on to the roster:
Lance Dunbar– Lance a free agent from North Texas, missed earlier games with a hamstring injury so going to the game last night his chances to make the roster were slim in my view. He needed a statement game and Dunbar brought his “A” game against the Dolphins as he rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries. That includes a 3rd Quarter 58 yard TD burst after returning a punt for 27 yards. Dunbar showed that he does indeed have game but will it be enough?
Jamize Olawale– Got to love that name. Olawale has performed well in each preseason game and showed up last night to make sure that Dunbar didn’t bump him off the roster without a battle. Olawale rushed for 53 yards on 7 carries and many of those yards came without a helmet!
While not quite as explosive of a runner as Dunbar, Olawale brings power and a consistent runner through out preseason. He also played some fullback last night in fact he was the FB when Dunbar had his long TD run. Olawale may make the roster as the 2nd FB behind Vickers and be used to back up RBs as well. I like his chances to make the final cut Friday.
Summary: Third RB Phillip Tanner returned from injury last night to run for 48 yards on 9 carries. That performance is probably enough to keep Tanner in the 3rd RB spot behind Murray and Jones. The Cowboys typically keep 3 RBs so how will Dunbar or Olawale make the roster? It may take some creativity from the Cowboys staff to keep one of those two.
Stephen McGee– McGee served as the Cowboys 3rd QB last season but is not guaranteed a roster spot Friday by any means as Dallas considers only carrying 2 QBs on the roster. He needed a good performance last night and I think he played well. He was 9/18 for 124 yards passing. I’m not positive that is going to be enough to make the roster as the 3rd QB.
Rudy Carpenter– Carpenter was a forgettable 4/10 for 48 yards passing on the night. I don’t think Carpenter will make the active roster.
Summary: Carpenter is eligible for the Cowboys practice squad and I think that is where he will end up. McGee is not eligible for the practice squad so that’s not an option. If Dallas decides to keep 3 QBs on the roster, then McGee will likely be the third again but if they decide to use that valuable spot at another position, then it could be the end of the road for McGee as a Cowboy. I fear it may be the latter.
Andre Holmes– Holmes came into the game as a WR that I think Dallas would like to keep but may not be able to. He caught one pass for 32 yards. Will that be enough to earn a roster spot? He appears to have lots of upside.
Tim Benford– Nice game from Benford who led receivers with 3 catches and 47 yards on the night. Benford had no catches in the previous preseason game so he needed to show something and he did. Benford is a good WR that won’t impress you so much with his size or speed but he just gets open and catches the ball. What more can you ask for? I hope Dallas is able to hold on to Benford is some way.
Danny Coale– The drafted WR is now playing after the broken foot injury. He made a nice catch for 13 yards in the game. Danny has demonstrated that he is capable WR but he certainly is at a disadvantage by having missed time with the injury. I’m sure Dallas wants to keep Danny but I’m not sure how they do it.
Summary: The Cowboys kept 6 WRs last season. Austin, Bryant, Ogletree, Harris, and Beasley would appear to occupy five spots. So how do they keep more than one of the three WRs listed above? Tough choices to be made. Dallas may elect to go with 7 WRs since it’s a position they usually do need depth. And they may elect to send one of these three to the practice squad. But would they clear waivers? I think Dallas keeps Coale and Holmes and sends Benton to the practice squad.
Orie Lemon– I’m not positive if Dallas planned to keep Lemon on the roster before the game last night, but after his performance, I think they have to find a spot on the roster for this guy. He had a pick 6 in the first half and finished the game with 5 tackles. A consistent performer through out preseason.
Adrian Hamilton– Unfortunately Hamilton was very quiet last night and needed to make an impression in this game to make coaches feel good about holding on to him. Hamilton has displayed outstanding pass rushing skills but can they keep him?
Summary: I think Lemon will survive the cuts Friday after his performance. Hamilton is a real close call. Dallas may be able to fit him into the roster or he may be headed to the practice squad. I hope the Cowboys are able to hold on to Hamilton a nice looking prospect.
Mana Silva– The “Hawaiian Punch” had another good performance as he had 4 tackles and made a nice defensive play on a pass by knocking it away from the intended receiver. With rookie Matt Johnson suffering from injuries during the preseason, I think Silva has earned the 4th safety spot. I expect him to survive cuts on Friday.
The defensive line
Several players fighting for a roster spot here. Last night Baraka Atkins had 5 tackles to make his case and Geathers had 4 tackles. Not so much heard from Bass or Callaway. It’s a close competition between these guys in a position that Dallas is fairly deep. The Cowboys will likely keep one of these players or two at the most. Tough call here to say the least. All have had good games and have disappeared at times too.
Friday will be a very interesting day to see which of these players survive the final cut. In some cases, I think we are looking at the 54 and 55 players on the roster which must be cut to 53. I imagine the coaches are having some intense conversations amongst each other in determining how many to keep at each position.