The last major hurdle has been cleared before the Dallas Cowboys open the 2011 season against the New York Jets. I don't know about you, but I am frankly glad to be able to stop guessing and start talking about the players that the Cowboys will take into this year's campaign. (If you need a quick review, check here.)
It was a relief in some ways. Igor Olshansky was finally cut, a move many of the posters here were calling for no later than three minutes into the Denver preseason game. In others, it was surprising, or perhaps a bit disappointing.
Some of the posters here were certainly let down to see Akwasi Owusu-Ansah not make the teamA lot of the posters here had a very high opinion of his athletic abilities and felt he needed some more time. I was always a bit ambivalent about him and thought he never quite seemed to catch on to his position. But I know it hurts to lose a pet cat. They are such precious little creatures.
More after the jump.
I was a bit disappointed in one name that didn't get cut, Sam Young. I was just about ready to lay money on the team going with nine offensive linemen, and he was a clear number 10 in my mind. I look at him, and wonder if that spot could have been better spent on Orie Lemon or Josh Thomas. Young players that have shown some flashes in camp are much more valuable to me than someone who I suspect is this year's answer to Alex Barron. (I know, you hate to see that name. Which is my point.) If there is any decent OT out there who is now available after the cuts, I would look for Young to be the first person to drop off the 53. I actually think he is on the roster to protect Jermey Parnell, another raw young player the coaches seem eager to invest some more coaching in.
That brings up the numbers themselves. 10 linemen, four running backs and four tight ends are all numbers that could be seen as a bit high, although the lack of a pure fullback does offset at least one of those. On the defense, I was really expecting to see one more ILB and one more CB, and another S or OLB would not have been a bad thing, although the talent might not have been there. The one player I think could have definitely made a contribution was Orie Lemon. He could at least have played until Bruce Carter was ready, and then he might have proven himself valuable enough to maybe consider keeping him over Keith Brooking. As I have said, I like Keith, except for those hyper rah-rah speeches before games, but he only has so much left in him. I really hope Lemon can get onto the PS, because I think we may need him in a few weeks.
I do slip into speculation when I see there are seven DL and seven total LB bodies on the team. I wonder if Rob Ryan has some ideas for other ways to use players like Jay Ratliff, Clifton Geathers and Sean Lissemore that don't fit easily into the standard 3-4 mold. I expect to see several formations this year that have more of a 4-3 look, with the DL getting a chance to go after the quarterback, too.
Although I don't fully understand all of the decisions here, I don't find most of them very shocking. The team has by and large gotten rid of all the dead weight and stayed true to the idea of playing the best people. I cannot find one name on the cut list that I can clearly say is better than the players that made the team at that same position.
One thing that does make me bang my head against the wall is going with two kickers. Again. I cannot really see that as anything other than wasting a roster spot. I would much rather see Orie Lemon on the team. But that would have meant keeping one all around capable kicker, and instead we have two half kickers to cover the job. I am one of those who love seeing David Buehler mash a returner, but hopefully he will almost never have to do that. I just cannot understand why we can't find a competent field goal kicker who can also kick the ball into the back half of the end zone on a regular basis. I tell you, it's a curse.
Now, the team will be waiting to see who is available from other teams. And it has to sign a practice squad. Todd Archer at ESPN has a take on a possible PS. It's a pretty good guess, I think, but if one of the current 53 is cut, then the team may bump one of the PS players, depending on who is eligible. And of course, we don't know who will clear waivers. We snatched Parnell off another team's PS.
But the main issue is settled. I will watch with interest to see what else may happen, but now it is time to start focusing on the start of the season.
I feel reasonably good about this group. Now to see how they play against the Jets.