The Dallas Cowboys just officially announced their cuts today. There aren’t any surprises, but here’s the complete list from the team:
- Jeff Adams OT
- Baraka Atkins LB
- Ben Bass DT
- Tim Benford WR
- Robert Callaway DT
- Rudy Carpenter QB
- Shaun Chapas FB
- Danny Coale WR
- Lance Dunbar RB
- Clifton Geathers DT
- Harland Gunn OG
- Saalim Hakim WR
- Adrian Hamilton LB
- Ronald Leary OG
- Orie Lemon LB
- Jamize Olawale RB
- Pat McQuistan OT
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB
- Lionel Smith CB
- Andrew Szczerba TE
- Eddie Whitley S
- Teddy Williams CB
Among those players cut, the Cowboys would probably want to bring back these players for their practice squad, which can’t be set until 11 a.m. Saturday:
- QB Rudy Carpenter,
- WR Danny Coale,
- RB Lance Dunbar,
- LB Orie Lemon,
- RB Jamize Olawale,
- LB Andrian Hamilton
- OG Ronald Leary
The Cowboys waived/injured guard Daniel Loper on Friday night.
The Cowboys traded their 2013 seventh-round draft pick to Miami for center/guard Ryan Cook on Friday morning. Cook, a seven-year veteran out of New Mexico, was originally a second round pick (51st overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played his first five years with the Vikings before signing with Miami as a free agent on September 5, 2011. Cook has started 40-of-77 career games, making starts at right tackle, right guard and at center.
Every year is the same it seems. We go into this final preseason game with a handful of players right there on the verge of making the team.
It’s always around the same number of players, with only the names changing, this year’s group including the likes of Hamilton, Coale, Lemon, Bass, Dunbar and Olawale. Oh, there were a few more, but those were the main guys.
But this year, the differences include more than just a few name changes.
Because as soon as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Wednesday’s 30-13 win over the Dolphins, the regular season was upon us. Just like that, it’s on.
No longer do the Cowboys have about 10 days to get ready. With the Wednesday night game on Sept. 5, the team only has a full seven days before they face the defending champs.
And it certainly doesn’t help that the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to key players such as Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin. Throw in Dez Bryant, Mike Jenkins and Danny McCray, and that puts quite a strain on the Cowboys trying to trim the roster down to 53 by Friday, at the same time they’re getting ready for a real game week.
Because of that, those injuries might have popped a few bubbles in the process.
We’ll see on Friday, but with the Giants game right around the corner, it might be too soon for some of these guys, particularly Witten and Ratliff. The Cowboys certainly won’t rule out either player. In fact, doctors checked out Witten’s lacerated spleen injury on Tuesday and it appears it will be a game-time decision on next Wednesday.
As for Ratliff, who has a high ankle sprain and was still on crutches as of Tuesday, it’ll also likely go up until kickoff before the Cowboys figure out his status.
In the meantime, the team has to prepare for the worst. In doing so, you must go long at those positions.
We could see Josh Brent and Robert Calloway make this team, at least for Week 1.
At tight end, either the Cowboys go and claim a player who gets cut, sign a veteran tight end or maybe keep Andrew Sczcerba around. Perhaps fullback Shaun Chapas makes it, mainly for his special teams ability.
Either way, moves like that knock off luxury keeps. By that, I mean keeping players who aren’t really ready to play just yet, but possess a certain quality. Guys like Ben Bass who plays with a high-motor on the defensive line, or Adrian Hamilton, who hasn’t figured out the 3-4 defense and/or special teams just yet, but he can rush the passer. Those guys are hurt by these injuries.
At running back, a guy like Lance Dunbar might have made the team in the past – solely because of that dazzling 58-yard run. Who knows, maybe he still does. A play like that will get noticed around the league and getting a player like that through waivers will be tough. Still, that’s one of those “luxury keeps” that might not happen because you’ll have a hard time getting him active each week. Personally, after that run, I think I’d make an exception. He’s got some wiggle to him and might be a decent kickoff returner, too.
The Cowboys like Andre Holmes and Danny Coale, who would be the sixth and seventh receivers. They’ll probably like a receiver or two that gets cut over the next few days. But they won’t keep eight and probably not even seven. They’d like to go long at receiver, especially if it means hanging onto Coale, a fifth-round pick who has been injured most of the offseason.
Now if Austin and Bryant were bigger question marks to play, it’d be a different story. However, it seems like both players have been held out of action just to be ready for the Giants. Bryant and Austin will start, and it looks like Harris and Ogletree will be next, with possibly Cole Beasley or maybe Holmes going to the game as a special teamer.
Then you go to the secondary. Mike Jenkins is not going to Florida after all to get an update on his shoulder. He passed his physical on Wednesday and will come off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) to practice as early as Saturday.
Still, you wonder how quickly he can get back into the mix. Yes, he’s a veteran and yes he knows the Giants and yes he plays a cornerback position that doesn’t always need the strongest continuity with his teammates. But football shape is a different thing. I still have hard time thinking Jenkins can get back to Dallas and start practicing Saturday and Sunday and be ready to play. It’s certainly a possibility, but if you remember last year’s game in New York against the Jets, Jenkins also battled a stinger/shoulder injury all preseason but played in the game. He went in and out about four times, battling all sorts of injuries.
The Cowboys likely have to go long at cornerback, not only on the roster, but the 46-man game-day roster as well. Expect Mario Butler to be active either way.
At safety, Matt Johnson (hamstring) will likely make the team although he’s barely played. McCray will obviously make it because he’s the special teams ace, but he’s battling a shoulder/stinger injury. So Mana Silva probably makes this team to start the season – and who knows, maybe he’ll stick around. He’s played pretty well this preseason. He’s a solid tackler and good on special teams. But still, that’s five safeties to keep.
This probably happens every year – injuries that cloud roster decisions. But it’s different when the guys injured are Pro Bowlers like Witten, Ratliff, Jenkins and Austin, who says he will play, but you probably have to make sure there is plenty of backup because of the nature of the injury and his history with hamstrings.
We’ll find it all out on Friday. But with so many guys playing for roster spots Wednesday night, it’s unfortunate for them that their fate was probably already sealed with a few of these preexisting injuries.
Jason Witten’s lacerated spleen is healing, but apparently, he still does not know when he will be cleared to play a game. Witten had a scan of his injured spleen Tuesday and learned that he can get some on-field work, with no contact, in the next few days, according to Stephen Jones.
Jones told 105.3 The Fan that Witten still hasn’t been ruled out of the Giants’ game. It seems more likely, though, that the Pro Bowl tight end will return for the Sept. 16 game at Seattle given that he has another doctor’s appointment next week.
"He had a good [doctor’s] appointment [Tuesday]," Jones, the team’s executive vice president, told the radio station. "Things are progressing. …It’s certainly starting to look [like surgery will not be needed]. He’ll go back for another appointment next week and see where it sits."
Witten, who has missed only one regular-season game in his career, lacerated his spleen in the exhibition opener against the Raiders on a hit by Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain. He worked on resistance cords during Monday’s practice as part of his rehab.
John Phillips, who has 22 career catches, or 674 fewer than Witten, for 163 yards and a touchdown in three seasons, has taken first-team reps in Witten’s absence. Rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba both could make the roster initially, with Witten’s status for the opener in doubt.
"You’ve got to be ready to go," Phillips said. "Step in. Next-man-up mentality. Ready to get out there and go."
IRVING, Texas — Go ahead and put most of these names in ink.
There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs entering Wednesday’s preseason finale, but the vast majority of the decisions will have already been made. The toughest calls come at the last spots for receiver, offensive line, defensive end and how to handle Matt Johnson’s situation (great potential, but can’t count on him this season).
Tony Romo Kyle Orton
If Stephen McGee wants to stick around for a fourth season, he needs to give the front office and coaches good reason to keep him with a strong performance in the preseason finale. At this point, it makes more sense to try to put Rudy Carpenter on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Phillip Tanner
Tanner didn’t help his cause with a blown assignment in pass protection that almost got Orton killed against the Rams, but he’s a solid No. 3 back and core special teams player. North Texas alums Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale are good practice squad candidates.
Lawrence Vickers Shaun Chapas
Chapas, a fixture on first-team special teams units Saturday, is likely to last only one week on the roster. An extra fullback can help mask the lack of depth at tight end in case Jason Witten misses the season opener.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten John Phillips James Hanna
The Cowboys could opt to go with rookie Andrew Szczerba as temporary insurance instead of Chapas.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Miles Austin Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree Dwayne Harris Cole Beasley Danny Coale
It comes down to Coale vs. Andre Holmes, the Jerry Jones pet cat who reported to camp in poor shape and has shown no consistency. Holmes has more upside. Coale, who has hardly been on the field due to injuries, is more likely to contribute this season. The Cowboys envisioned Coale as a Sam Hurd-type No. 4 receiver/special teams stud (without the felonious side business, of course) when they invested a fifth-round pick in him.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Tyron Smith Doug Free Nate Livings Mackenzy Bernadeau Phil Costa
David Arkin Jermey Parnell Ronald Leary Pat McQuistan
Is being a third guard good enough reason to keep Derrick Dockery? He probably wouldn’t be active on game days due to his lack of position versatility. McQuistan has experience at tackle, guard, blocking tight end and has even worked some at center. Addressing the lack of depth at center would be a wise move after Week 1.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
Jay Ratliff Jason Hatcher Kenyon Coleman Sean Lissemore Marcus Spears
Tyrone Crawford Josh Brent
Clifton Geathers (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) looks the part, but he hasn’t done enough to push Coleman or Spears off the roster. The Cowboys can save a little money by cutting (or perhaps trading) one of the veterans, but keeping both gives them quality depth in the defensive end rotation.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
Sean Lee Bruce Carter Dan Connor Orie Lemon
Lemon is a guy you notice a lot in practices and preseason games. He has developmental potential and can contribute now on special teams.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
DeMarcus Ware Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler Kyle Wilber Alex Albright
Can the Cowboys get pass rusher Adrian Hamilton through waivers onto the practice squad? It appears that they will try. He’s not getting reps with the first-team special teams units, a strong sign that they don’t see him as a fit for the 53-man roster this season.
Brandon Carr Morris Claiborne
Orlando Scandrick Mike Jenkins Mario Butler
Jerry Jones has said there is a roster spot for Jenkins, meaning the Cowboys don’t plan for him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the season opener.
Gerald Sensabaugh Barry Church Danny McCray Mana Silva
What to do with fourth-round pick Matt Johnson? He has hardly practiced because of a hamstring injury and he strained the other hamstring in his preseason debut Saturday night. The Cowboys could try to get him through waivers to the practice squad or put him on injured reserve, essentially making this a redshirt season. With such limited practice time, putting him on the 53 would be a waste of a roster spot.
Dan Bailey Chris Jones L.P. Ladouceur
No drama here after rookie deep snapper Charley Hughlett’s release Monday. The Cowboys were willing to pay more for the proven commodity.