The Cowboys have more project WRs than they know what to do with. Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale, Cole Beaseley, Raymond Radway, and to a lesser degree Tim Benneford are all fighting for at most 4 roster spots. Many people will be watching game 3 this weekend trying to figure out who the best WRs are, assuming that's who will be kept. As Bob Sturm wrote about a couple days ago the San Diego Chargers went about that strategy in 2010 and despite having a top-5 ranked offense and a top-5 ranked defense missed the playoffs because their special teams were so horrible.
The simple fact of the NFL is that you only have 45 guys to field an NFL team with each week. Your 22 starters aren't going to be playing special teams and neither are your backup O-line and only rarely D-linemen. That means you have to assemble kick coverage, punt coverage, punt return, and kick return teams from your TE3, RB3, and backup linebackers, d-backs, and wide receivers.
This season the Cowboys are losing many contributors to their special teams
- Barry Church played on all teams last year but will be a starter this year
- Jesse Holley played on all special teams but did not make the team this year
- AOA played on all special teams last year but is expected to not make the team
- Kevin Ogletree and Alan Ball saw some time at special teams but were poor at it
So can the replacements step in to fill the role?
- Mike Jenkins (replacing Alan Ball) - good luck getting that pouty diva to make a special teams tackle
- Matt Johnson (replacing Barry Church) - We have no clue if he can play special teams at all
- Mario Butler (replacing AOA) - If his run-support in pre-season is any indication, yeah this guy can run down the field and make a tackle.
So the special teams unit is getting hit from two angles. It has lost many of its best players (Jesse Holley, Church, AOA) and the defensive-back position group is not bringing much new talent to the table. So if the Cowboys are looking for 4 special teams players and they only have 1 (Mario Butler) they need to find 3 guys before the season starts.
What this comes down to is the Cowboys need WRs that can play special teams. So who are our candidates?
- Kevin Ogletree - famously bad on special teams
- Cole Beasley - A 175lb guy is going to block a 225lb safety on punt coverage? Really?
- Andre Holmes - inactive on all special teams
- Danny Coale - We need to figure out if he can play special teams stat.
- Dwayne Harris - on the practice squad last year, did not play special teams
- Raymond Radway -on IR last year, did not play special teams
- Tim Benneford - Rookie
The Cowboys can definately afford to carry 1 WR that doesn't play special teams, but that would assumedly be your WR3. The WR4 and WR5 positions will almost certainly be decided by special teams play. As you look at the roster you can see how the permutations can play out. For example, if Kevin Ogletree does not win the WR3 job and can't play special teams how can you find a roster spot for him? If Cole Beasley can't win Jason Garrett's approval as the WR3 he's far too small to latch on as a special teams guy. So can he hang on as a WR6? Well, can Matt Johnson cover kicks and punts? If Matt Johnson can't then you can't afford to keep a WR6 and a 4th string safety that can't play special teams - one of them has to go. In this scenario you could see Beaseley getting cut, the Cowboys keeping 5 WRs and using that saved roster spot to keep AOA on the team for special teams. Can you imagine how angry Cowboys nation would be at that one? But it could happen and you would know why.
The players that step up and show Joe D. they can run down the field and blow up a punt returner Saturday are very likely to make the team. If Andre Holmes blocks guys into the sideline with his big 6'5" body he's going to make your roster. So watch the special teams on Saturday, that's where our WRs will win or lose their roster spot because you're going to see a WR with a bunch of catches on Saturday get cut but a WR that blows up a kick returner make the team.