With this post, there are now exactly 100 front-page stories in the SBNation NFL archives for all 32 teams featuring the term "Pet Cat". Do you want to take a guess at how many of those 100 stories were posted right here on Blogging The Boys? The answer is fairly simple: all of them. But why is that?
"Pet Cat" is a Parcells-ism, a term Bill Parcells popularized in Cowboys Nation during his tenure as head coach in Dallas. The term initially referred to a prospect whom a coach, scout or owner had taken a particular liking to, often based on little more than a whim, and whom they would then try to draft, regardless of what the scouting consensus was.
Among Cowboys fans, pet cat has come to refer to a player who is a bubble player (even making the practice squad is often considered pet cat success) and is commonly selected from the very bottom of the roster where you'll find late-round draft picks, undrafted free agents or even street free agents. Parcells once said that "you can have too many pet cats". As the meaning or the phrase has evolved over time, we know today that what Parcells said is not true, in fact, the opposite is true: you can never have enough pet cats.
The pet cat is often - and preferably - chosen without the slightest factual or quantifiable basis. In fact, some would argue that you do not choose your pet cat, your pet cat chooses you.
After the break we look at which players the BTB writers have picked as their pet cats
Who is your pet cat to make the roster this year?
Last year Dave picked Shaun Chapas, Kegbearer picked David Arkin, Shawn picked Phillip Tanner and KD picked Teddy Williams. All are still on the roster one year later, so that's some good mojo.
Unfortunately, I picked QB Zack Eskridge who turned out to be one of the first players to be released, so I'll have to be extra careful with my pick this year.
rabblerousr: Rabble picks Adrian Hamilton, the DE/ OLB from Prairie View A & M. He has a lot of the traits the top pass rushers have: a quick get-off, the ability to dip and bend around the corner, and even flashes a pretty spin move. Oh, and he had off-the-charts production, albeit at a small school: 20.5 sacks. Are you kidding me? I want to see the Cowboys defensive coaches nurture his considerable upside for a year or two, then: BOOM!
KD Drummond: KD picks RB Lance Dunbar from North Texas. He runs a very respectable 4.47 at his Pro Day, and has been first-team all-conference three years running. With over 4,000 career rushing yards and over 1,000 receiving yards he just might have the experience to pass protect; a trait most rookies don't have and which keeps them out of the lineup. I think Dallas will take special care with the backs in camp as they look to replace Felix Jones for the 2013 season and while Dunbar might start on the PS, any injury could thrust him into prominence quickly.
Brandon Worley: Since I'm not allowed to pick Tyrone Crawford, my pet cat for this season is going to have to be Matt Johnson. The guy is a pure football player and was drafted with a legitimate shot at becoming the Cowboys starting safety by next season. He won't be rushed into service and will be able learn and develop under Brodney Poole and Gerald Sensabaugh while being able to make his mark on special teams.
I never had the chance to see him play before he was drafted but based on his game film (and there is a lot of it out there) it's obvious that this is an aggressive yet smart safety who knows how to tackle and safely make a big hit. While there are no guarantees he turns out to be the next star safety we've been waiting for all these years, I'm certainly excited about the prospect of him having a long ad productive career as a Dallas Cowboy.
Archie Barberio: I was going to go with Danny Coale here, but I decided to go with Adrian Hamilton. Part of the reason for this is that I have desperately wanted another pass rusher on this team. When you watch him on tape, he has an amazing burst off the line. The odds will be against him, and he is the ultimate boom or bust prospect, but this kid could be a dynamic pass rusher.
I see some Cameron Wake in his game. Obviously it would be amazing if he was the next Cameron Wake, but I must temper my expectations on Hamilton. What the Cowboys need to do is keep him on the roster and develop him. If they get greedy and attempt to sneak him on the practice squad, he could get snatched up. Keep him on the 53, let him play pass rushing downs and let him grow as a football player. In a few years, you could have an electrifying pass rusher.
Coty Saxman: I'm going with Eddie Whitley from Virginia Tech. He was an incredibly versatile defensive back, and intelligent enough to run the whole defense. He played in a role reminiscent of Rob's roving nickle backs. Besides all that, he runs a 4.39, he's over 6' tall, and he's a high-character guy. I think he can stick around as a special teams guy and work his way up to a sub-package contributor. There're multiple guys gunning for that same role, though, so he has a tough road ahead. His measurables are what make me think he has a chance.
Tom Ryle: I'm taking Danny Coale, then. I wrote in somewhat humorous 53 man roster article about him getting tried at punter, and I was partly joking. But having him go in to punt a few times could set up the fake punt play, and I would really like to see the team give that a try. I do like him for real as a candidate for the third receiver job, and I think he may have a second path onto the team as a return man. I like his combination of size, speed and agility. Plus he faces a bigger challenge with the number of receivers, but the team really needs to have lightening strike again the way it did with Laurent Robinson last year, and seems a possible candidate.
OCC: I'm picking the Cowboys "eighth pick", OG Ronald Leary. The 6-foot-3, 315 pound Leary was hand-picked by Bill Callahan to bring some stoutness to the Cowboys interior O-line. Leary played most of his college career at left tackle, a good indication that he has enough athleticism to play inside. At Memphis, he was recognized as the Co-MVP of the team, quite an unusual honor for an offensive lineman. The Cowboys believe he can step in almost immediatey, and there is a good chance he could be a starter before the year ends.
There is some concern that Leary may have a degenerative knee condition that could limit his time in the NFL. But keep in mind that the Cowboys have some of the best specialists with knees and joints in the country. Coupled with Mike Woicik's prehabbing process the Cowboys should be quietly optimistic about Leary's future with the team.
Below is the roster as it stands today. The splits are based on who was where on the roster (i.e. 53-man roster, IR, practice squad etc.) at the end of the 2011 season. Make your pick wisely, you may be held accountable at the beginning of September when the rosters are set.
|2011 53-man roster||Injured Reserve|
|1||Albright, Alex||LB||48||Church, Barry||S|
|2||Arkin, David||G||49||Murray, DeMarco||RB|
|3||Austin, Miles||WR||50||Nagy, Bill||G|
|4||Bailey, Dan||K||51||Radway, Raymond||WR|
|5||Brent, Josh||DT||52||Tanner, Phillip||RB|
|7||Butler, Victor||LB||53||Atkins, Baraka||DE|
|8||Carter, Bruce||LB||54||Butler, Mario||CB|
|9||Chapas, Shaun||FB||55||Calloway, Robert||DT|
|10||Coleman, Kenyon||DE||56||Lemon, Orie||LB|
|11||Costa, Phil||C||57||Satele, Brashton||LB|
|12||Free, Doug||OT||58||Taplin-Ross, Justin||CB|
|13||Geathers, Clifton||DE||59||Williams, Teddy||CB|
|14||Harris, Dwayne||WR||60||Wilson, C.J.||CB|
|15||Hatcher, Jason||DT||Draft Picks|
|16||Holmes, Andre||WR||61||Claiborne, Morris||CB|
|17||Jenkins, Mike||CB||62||Coale, Danny||WR|
|18||Jones, Chris||P||63||Crawford, Tyrone||DE|
|19||Jones, Felix||RB||64||Hanna, James||TE|
|20||Kowalski, Kevin||C||65||Johnson, Matt||S|
|21||Ladouceur, L.P.||LS||66||McSurdy, Caleb||LB|
|22||Lee, Sean||LB||67||Wilber, Kyle||LB|
|24||McCray, Danny||S||68||Adams, Jeff||OT|
|25||McGee, Stephen||QB||69||Adcock, Levy||OT|
|26||Ogletree, Kevin||WR||70||Beasley, Cole||WR|
|27||Parnell, Jermey||OT||71||Benford, Tim||WR|
|28||Phillips, John||TE||72||Bryan, George||TE|
|29||Ratliff, Jay||DT||73||Dever, Taylor||OT|
|30||Romo, Tony||QB||74||Dunbar, Lance||RB|
|31||Scandrick, Orlando||CB||75||Gunn, Harland||G|
|32||Sensabaugh, Gerald||S||76||Hakim, Saalim||WR|
|33||Silva, Mana||S||77||Hamilton, Adrian||LB|
|34||Smith, Tyron||OT||78||Hughlett, Charley||LS|
|35||Spears, Marcus||DE||79||Kemp, Donavon||WR|
|36||Spencer, Anthony||LB||80||Leary, Ronald||G|
|37||Ware, DeMarcus||LB||81||Madison, Isaac||CB|
|38||Witten, Jason||TE||82||Novikoff, Tyrone||OT|
|Free Agent Acquisitions||83||Scott, Darrell||RB|
|39||Bernadeau, Mackenzy||G||84||Smith, Lionel||CB|
|40||Carpenter, Rudy||QB||85||Szczerba, Andrew||TE|
|41||Carr, Brandon||CB||86||Whiteside, Aston||LB|
|42||Connor, Dan||LB||87||Whitley, Eddie||S|
|43||Greenhouse, Isaiah||FB||88||Woolfolk, Troy||CB|