Who's up and who's down + 53 man projection PART 2

Last week after our first preaseason game against the Broncos I wrote a piece on who I think should make the 53 man roster and who helped and hurt their case after the game and it could be seen here. I will be updating my projection after each game and I will use for my 90 man roster again.

The Locks

Last week I looked at who is basically a lock to make the 53 man roster and not much has changed but a few players have to be added and subtracted. I will not go into as much detail this week about the guys I talked about last week but will explain my changes.

QB- Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen Mcgee

+ Mcgee- This kid proved himself last week and did nothing to hurt himself again this week. He showed poise in the pocket and he stayed composed when he was under pressure which was most of the game considering the backup offensive line was horrible. Tom Brandstater did not even get in the game last night so I think their is absolutely no question who our 3 quarterbacks will be this year.

RB- Felix Jones, Demarco Murray

Note- Felix looked amazing last night, everyone knows it. I have no doubt in my mind he will rush for 1000+ yards this year while also being a huge part in the passing game. After impressing us with his explosive running and impressive screen plays he also picked up a blitz and put on a beautiful chip block. He showed us he will be helpful to us as a running back, receiver, and a blocker. He was the best player on the field last night.

WR- Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree

Note- Dez had a really bad drop his first target but made up for it later with a couple good screen plays, he just refused to be tackled. He looked like an absolute beast last night when he had the ball in his hands. Also Ogletree really helped his case last night for the 3rd receiver job by just being solid and running crisp routes. Also none of the other receivers did anything to impress.

TE- Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips

Note- Witten was Witten last night and I think he still will be Romo's favorite target this year even with Dez and Miles. Also aside from a drop from Bennett, Marty B and Phillips both looked pretty good out there. 

OT- Tyron Smith, Doug Free

Note- Free got beat bad a couple times but I do not think it is anything to worry about. Tyron looked like a future stud last night. He looked strong, athletic, and was rarely beat. The only thing he needs to work on is his footwork

OG- Kyle Kosier

- Arkin- Kyle Kosier is now the guard that is a lock to be here on opening day. David Arkin did not look good last night, plain and simple. He missed an assignment which led to a sack on Mcgee and a fumble lost. Arkin still has shown a lot of promise but it is hard for me to call him a lock after watching him play last night, he was hopefully just experiencing some growing pains.

- Holland- I can not call a guy a lock if he cant get on the field. He is apparently out of shape and has been out for a while now. His main competition for that starting RG spot, Arkin, looked pretty bad last night so when Holland comes back he has a good opportunity to be the starter on week one.

C- Andre Gurode, Phil Costa

+ Costa- The trade rumors swirling around Gurode shows how confident the organization is in Costa and I am too. While I do not agree with trading Gurode at all I do like Costa. I think even if Gurode is not traded Costa could still start on that offensive line next to Gurode. He wasn't exactly incredible last night but he didn't have to be.

DE- Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman

Note- I was really excited to see Hatcher again this week but unfortunately he was on the sidelines in street clothes, nobody really impressed me all that much.

NT- Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent

Note- Brent did have sack last night but his effort was negated by a costly encroachment penalty leading to a free first down.

OLB- Demarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler

Note- Butler was very quiet last night which is surprising because he was soooo good against the Broncos. He still is in no jeopardy of losing his job anytime soon.

MLB- Bradie James, Sean Lee

- Carter- While I still think there is zero percent chance Carter is cut I do believe the Cowboys will play it safe with him and start him on the PUP to begin the year. We have so much depth at linebacker right now and I love our young guys so we can afford to be without Carter for the first 6 games and get him back midseason and see what the kid can do.

CB- Terrence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick

Note- Scandrick got beat bad early on by Vjax on a blitz, but hey RR is going to live and die by the blitz this year so we gotta get used to it. Scandrick played pretty well after that one mistake.

FS- Gerald Sensabaguh 

Note- Sensi almost had an incredible interception near the sideline but it was called back because of the old "toe to heel" rule. Pretty stupid right? I was still very impressed with his athleticism and balance on that play and he didn't play too bad all night. The TD to McMichael was Ball's fault not Sensi.

SS- Abe Elam, Barry Church

+Church- Our backup safety was extremely impressive last night, he was all over the field. He had a very nice pass breakup in the endzone on Randy McMichael and made a couple very nice open field tackles. He locked up the backup strong safety job with his play against the Chargers.

P- Mat Mcbriar

Note- More beautiful punting by Mcbriar last night. It really feels good to have the best punter in the league on your side even though I hope he is not used often.

LS- L.P. Ladouceur

There are still 34 locks to make the roster this year and there are also locks to be cut.

Locks to miss the cut

Corey Adams LS, Mike Balogun LB, Billy Blackard NT, Tom Brandstater QB, Dominique Edison WR, Chris Jones P, Pepa Lutuli OG, Chris Randle CB, Jimmy Saddler McQueen NT, Teddy Williams WR, Colin Zych S

Again there are 11 locks to be cut this week making it 45 players who know there fate leaving 45 players all fighting for 19 spots. Before I decide who makes it well look at who helped and hurt their case last night.

HELP- Phillip Tanner RB- Tanner was phenomenal running the ball last night. The run where his helmet popped off and he proceeded to run into the endzone for a touchdown (obviously it was called back) reminded us of a cowboys great that we call Jason. Tanner was strong, quick, and ferocious running with the ball, he hit the hole hard and also played well on ST which will play a big role on whether he is here or not.

HURT- Lonyae Miller RB- Miller was outplayed by Tanner again this week. He did a nice job blocking but that is about it. Miller just does not look the same in games as he does in practice (apparently, I have never actually seen Miller practice). his 6 carries for 9 yards and 1.5 yard average were nowhere near Tanner's 4 carries for 31 yards and 7.8 yard average. Two straight lousy performances might keep Miller on the practice squad for now.

HELP- Alex Albright OLB- Albright made an appearance on last weeks "HURT" list but he switched sides after the Chargers game. Albright had 3 tackles last night but made a bigger impact then his stats suggest. He was constantly in the backfield harassing Chargers backup QB Scott Tolzien. He was around the ball making plays along with his fellow young linebacker Orie Lemon.

HURT- Igor Olshansky DE- After my post last week many fans pleaded their case as to why Igor should never don the star on his helmet again. Well he disappointed again last night and hurt his case even more. Youngster Sean Lissemore outplayed him again and very well could take his spot as backup defensive end. He was constantly pushed off the line and I did not notice one positive play made by him all night.

HELP- Barry Church SS- In my opinion Church was the second best Cowboy on the field last night behind Felix. I believe he locked up his roster spot and according to Chris Collinsworth he is "favorite to start at SS". I doubt that happens but he could be a very good starter for us down the road. He had a great pass breakup in the endzone and made a couple of important open field tackles.

HURT- Sam Young OT- Young really played badly last night he was getting beat constantly. Luckily for Young none of the other backup lineman pushing him for a roster spot played any better which is why Mcgee was under pressure all night. Young was also called for a false start which is something we do not need this season. Parnell and Arkin also struggled on the backup offensive line but Young stood out as being particularly bad.

HELP- Manny Johnson WR- For the first time in 2 years Johnson showed he can make plays. He led the team in receiving with 35 yards including a nice 28 yard catch from Mcgee. None of the receivers fighting for a roster spot really stood out so Johnson was the most impressive of the group. He is still a longshot to make the roster but if he keeps up this play he could sneak in as the 5th receiver. 

HURT- Dwayne Harris WR- After such an encouraging game against the Broncos Harris was completely silent against the Chargers. After last game Harris had people thinking he would surely be our 3rd receiver by the end of camp but he did nothing to pry that job away from Ogletree last night. He had 0 catches for 0 yards and 1 target.  I still like the kid and think he has good potential but he is in a heated roster battle at wide receiver and he can not afford to have another game like this.

HELP- Alan Ball CB- Ball had one negative play all night, unfortunately it was REALLY bad. He missed coverage on Randy McMichael in the endzone leaving him wide open for a touchdown. Now that were passed the bad lets move onto the good, Ball was extremely physical last night. It seemed like every time anyone ran to the outside Ball hit him hard, he also played pretty well in coverage after that touchdown. Ball was another player who fans were hoping would be cut but he played pretty well again last night and he should be able to make the squad if he keeps this up.

HURT- Victor Butler OLB- Unlike the other guys on this list, Butler's spot on the roster is safe, but he is fighting for a starting spot and he didn't help his case last night. A lot of fans were pushing for Butler to dethrone Spencer as the starting linebacker opposite Ware but instead Butler will most likely be backing him up again this year. I do think Rob Ryan will find creative ways to use Butler om pass rushing situations.

19 roster spots left now and certain position battles will determine who makes the cut.

RB- Tashard Choice vs. Lonyae Miller vs. Phillip Tanner vs. Frank Warren

Tanner's impressive game last night clouded up this position battle even more then it was before yesterday. Warren looked good catching the ball out of the backfield but I doubt he is a serious contender in this race. Miller's second straight rough game could have sent him back to the practice squad. Now I do think it is down to Choice vs. Tanner for the 3rd RB spot and I don't feel comfortable cutting either one. Tanner looked phenomenal yesterday and I certainly want to see more of that kind of running during the regular season so he makes the squad. I also can not bring myself to cut Choice yet since I have not seen him play since January and if I remember correctly he is a solid running back who defiantly has value and if he is not traded should be kept around. I know Jerry has said he is not keeping 4 running backs but who really believes anything he says anymore. Plus who feels confident that Felix and Murray can keep healthy all year. I've even heard Murray could start the year on the PUP, but I doubt it so I would keep 4 RB's for now. If i remember correctly at times last year we kept Jones, Choice, Barber, and Miller on the roster at the same time. Winners- Choice and Tanner

FB- Shaun Chapas vs. Chris Gronkowski vs. Jason Pociask vs. Isiah Greenhouse vs. Martin Rucker

Rucker would not be a FB but their has been talk of keeping him instead of a conventional fullback and playing Phillips at h-back and Rucker at 3rd string tight end. I disagree with this theory even though I like Rucker so he is out for now though I would like to keep him close. Greenhouse went from being "lock to be cut" to being right in the middle of a position battle. I did not notice him playing fullback last night so he is out, if anyone saw him play fullback and saw him do something impressive please let me know. I am honestly looking for anything positive to come from anybody at this position because right now it is a crap shoot. Pociask hasn't shown enough to push out a draft pick or the starter last year so he is out and it comes down to Chapas vs. Gronk. Gronk has not shown enough to be forgiven for last year so Chapas wins by default. Winner- Chapas

WR- Dwayne Harris vs. Jesse Holley vs. Raymond Radway vs. Lyle Leong vs. Manuel Johnson vs. Tyson Poots vs. James Cleveland vs. Titus Ryan vs. Clay Curtis

Before we start we have to separate the serious contenders from the others so Cleveland, Ryan, Curtis, Poots, and Leong are out. I really like Leong in camp but he has showed nothing in the games so he is out. Curtis had a very nice sliding catch last night but I have heard absolutely nothing else from him so he is also out. Poots, Ryan, and Cleveland really just havent shown as much as the other contenders so they are out as well which leaves Harris/Holley/Radway/Johnson. Johnson was the best last night but also has showed very little in the past and until he performs on a consistent basis he will not be an NFL receiver. Harris was impressive enough in the Broncos game to make up for his non existent performance in the Chargers game so he still makes the team. The final cut comes down to Holley vs. Radway, recently Holley has showed he does have some receiving ability to go along with stellar special teams play but ultimately Radway's upside and speed prove to be too intriguing to let him go so he will make the team. Winners- Harris and Radway

OL- Kevin Kowalski vs. Bill Nagy vs. David Arkin vs. Montrae Holland vs. Sam Young vs. Jeremy Parnell

With the center position locked up for now there are still possibly 3 open spots at guard and 2 open spots at tackle. Kowalski was probably the worst player on the backup offensive line last night but I doubt he was ever really in the race to make the team anyway. Nagy held his own last night against the Chargers first team, he did get pushed back into the pocket a couple times but for the most part he was solid and a lot better then anybody else on this list and he should make the team because of his performance and versatility. Arkin still has showed enough in camp to make the team. He is still a fourth round pick and I think he still has the potential to start for us down the road, possibly sometime soon. Holland still can not make it onto the field but the competition for starting right guard is so open right now I do wanna see if he can unseat Nagy or Arkin. If he doesn't show us something in the next week or so I really think he will be most likely gone but for now I wanna see what he can do. And now their is one spot for Parnell and Young who both looked bad last night and both committed costly penalties. Even though Young was horrible, Parnell did absolutely nothing to put himself ahead of him so Young is still our swing tackle for now. Winners- Nagy, Arkin, Holland, and Young

DE- Igor Olshansky vs. Sean Lissemore vs. Clifton Geathers

Olshansky was bad again last night which finally makes me feel comfortable enough to let him go. Our combination of Spears, Hatcher, and Coleman should provide enough firepower to release Igor who was constantly getting pushed around last night again. Lissemore has shown flashes and I think the coaching staff sees it as well. HJe has outplayed Igor in both games and he is versatile enough to play end or tackle so he will get a chance here. Geathers didn't do anything spectacular last night but I still like this kid. Unfortunately he still hasn't done enough for us to keep 5 defensive ends on the roster so I really hope this is one kid we can stash away on our practice squad until we need him. Winner- Lissemore

OLB- Brandon WIlliams vs. Alex Daniels vs.  Alex Albright

Williams has been teasing us for two years now with his speed and athleticism but really hasn't played well enough to push out one of these kids who are playing out of their mind both during practice and games. Daniels gets an A for effort but this one really goes to Albright. He was really everywhere on the field last night. He got into the backfield constantly making plays. After a disappointing game against the Broncos he showed last night what he has been doing in practice for weeks now. Winner- Albright

MLB- Keith Brooking vs. Kenwin Cummings vs. Orie Lemon

One of the hardest positions to predict because of the stellar play of Cummings and Lemon during practices and last night. Brooking still hasn't gotten on the field and I think it has really hurt him because both Cummings and Lemon have been excellent. Cummings led the team in tackles and Lemon was equally aggressive. Lemon did have a horse collar penalty but I think that was just a case of a kid fighting for a roster spot getting a little too aggressive which I really don't have a problem with. With the emergence of these young guys I think Brooking's spot on this team is in serious jeopardy and this position will come down to the final cuts. In the end the youth and improving skills of Cummings and Lemon will beat out Brooking's leadership and diminishing skills. I sincerely hope we can keep Brooking close to the organization either as a linebacker coach or as something else. It pains me to let Brooking go but I do think it is time to move on. Winners- Lemon and Cummings

CB- Alan Ball vs. Josh Thomas vs. Bryan McCann vs. Mario Butler

Ball really impressed me last night he was tough and physical and I think that is what we need in our secondary. He did let in a touchdown and that was bad but aside from that he was good and has been good all camp. He has shown me enough to keep him around. Thomas has shown a lot of potential so far this preseason and I really like his upside so the fifth rounder sticks around. I do think we keep 6 cornerbacks because of all the injuries we've had at the position and the final cut comes down to McCann and Butler. Butler got beat bad on one play which would have been an easy touchdown if Volek wouldn't have overthrown his receiver. He made up for it with a great pass breakup near the endzone though. Unfortunately for Butler he is the slowest cornerback on our team and McCann is probably the fastest. Speed is very important for a corner and McCann sure has it. Also he gives us another option as a return man if we feel their is too much of an injury risk to put Dez out their to return punts. Winners- Ball, Thomas, and McCann

S- Danny McCray vs. Andrew Sendejo vs. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

McCray's stellar special teams play is enough to keep him around but he also has shown he can play a little safety. On the first play of the game last night RR blitzed him up the middle leading to a rushed Philip Rivers incompletion. The final cut is between the hard hitting Sendejo and the tantalizing yet disappointing AOA. Last week I had to remind all the AOA haters that this he missed all of last years OTA's, camp, preseason, and some regular season games. And then comes into this year with basically no offseason and is thrusted into the starting FS role before we resign Sensi. I still believe in AOA even if most other fans don't. I think it is unfair to cut this 4th round pick so early in his injury shortened career. I like Sendejo but not enough to cut AOA who I still think can be the ball hawk we have been looking for. Winners- McCray and Owusu-Ansah

K- David Buehler vs. Dan Bailey vs. Shayne Graham vs. Kai Forbath

This position is identical to fullback, nobody has shown anything impressive so it is kind of a crap shoot. We have not seen Forbath or the newly acquired Graham kick in a Cowboys uniform and that might be an advantage for them because both Buehler and Bailey have been mediocre at best. Bailey's main concern for me is his kickoffs, he can not get the ball into the endzone even with the controversial kickoff changes. Buehler makes us all hold our breath every time he steps up for a field goal no matter where on the field it is. So with neither of them doing anything to solidify the spot and with only one roster spot left we will not keep 2 kickers like last year. Graham has been an average kicker throughout his career and he has been horrible this preseason with the Redskins so his signing didn't exactly excite me this morning. That leaves the last man standing, the highly touted Kai Forbath. Once Forbath gets onto the field I think we will see what a real NFL kicker should look like and he will wrestle the job away from Buehler/Bailey. Winner- Forbath

Now with the 53 man roster set lets look at my hopeful practice squad

RB- Lonyae Miller

WR- Lyle Leong 

WR- Jesse Holley

TE- Martin Rucker

OL- Jeremy Parnell

DL- Clifton Geathers

CB- Mario Butler

SS- Andrew Sendejo

Also my final cuts came down to these 8 guys.

Last 4 in

1. Choice

2. Holland

3. McCann

4. AOA

Last 4 out

1. Brooking

2. Miller

3. Holley

4. Sendejo


 Final Note- Sorry about all the "last night"s I know it is now Tuesday and the game was Sunday night but this piece took me a couple days to write and I am too lazy to go back and switch all the last nights. Go Cowboys

Update- Alex Daniels, Frank Warren, James Cleveland, Titus Ryan, Billy Blackard, Corey Adams, and Dominique Edison have been cut

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