In my previous post I looked at the injury shuffle on the defensive line, as well as how the depth situation along the offensive line could impact how many DL to keep on the 53. I must admit today's release of 2nd year defensive tackle/end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun came as a surprise, especially given the groin injury to Cameron Sheffield that I thought may have opened the door for the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler. Either Ike's [ankle or foot?] injury was more serious than publically disclosed [UPDATE Ike has been waived injured, just like Brian Price and Robert Callaway] or the coaches may like 6"3 270 pound journeyman George Selvie or even Monte Taylor's potential at SAM defensive end. Ben Bass should continue to be the primary backup for Anthony Spencer when healthy.
Now with the injury to Kevin Kowalski keeping "Killer K" out for at least two weeks and with Mackenzy Bernadeau still slow to come back from his injuries, KD Drummond has tweeted that the club may be considering 36-year-old guard Brian Waters (no word tonight on whether our old friends 33-year-olds Montrae "Lumpy" Holland or ex-Jets guard Brandon Moore are on the FO's radar) for depth purposes. Waters played on the New England Patriots 2011-2012 Super Bowl offensive line. [UPDATE: Yesterday @BryanBroaddus tweeted there was no truth to the rumors that the club was in the market for Waters, though he didn't deny interest in any free agent guards. Today with the setback for Nate Livings he's keeping more of an open mind. My money would be on Brandon Moore if Dallas chooses to part ways with Livings and bring in another veteran to start]
Of course as with last year's signing of ex-Cowboy Pat McQuistan, it could all simply be for depth in the preseason and not a signing for the regular season. The same goes for the club picking up ex-Philadelphia Eagles free agent bust Demetress Bell to play tackle in the 3rd or 4th quarter of preseason games.
Meanwhile, the leg injury that should keep Kowalski out f
or a minimum of half most of the preseason seems to make Phil Costa's backup center job more secure and it less likely that he'll be dealt to Denver, Detroit or some other center-needy team this preseason (again I could be wrong about that, depending on the club's evaluation of Ryan Cook). While Costa has a history of being bullrushed he's improved his anchor since last year and has better mobility to trap and pull than Cook.
The good news for us fans is that Ronald Leary is being given every opportunity to seize the starting left guard job from Nate Livings, while the much-maligned David Arkin entering his third year seems to have made substantial improvement at right guard, helped by the return of the old Doug Free. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding when Arkin lines up against Miami's quality defensive tackles in this weekend's Hall of Fame game, and in subsequent preseason games.
One player who has struggled visibly in camp is Darrion Weems, a guy we heard a little bit about this offseason as a young talent to watch. He appears to be headed for a date with the Turk, but could rally to earn a practice squad spot. Second year tackle Edwan Coughman seems likely to benefit from Weems struggles as well as his superior versatility and ability to play both inside and outside. I have Coughman as a dark horse to make the 53, depending on whether Dallas keeps nine or ten offensive linemen, but he's definitely earned a practice squad spot at this point.
Mackenzy Bernadeau is expected to be back from his offseason surgeries and a hamstring injury next week and probably will play in the second preseason tilt against the Oakland Raiders. Just as Livings is trying to ward off Leary, Bernadeau is looking over his shoulder at ex-Green Bay Packer Ray Dominguez. Whether Dominguez makes the 53 or goes to the practice squad, if he plays just as well as Bernie for significantly less pay then Bernie becomes expendable, even with Bernie's restructured contract and being only two years older than his competitor. One thing to remember though is that Bernie is PUP eligible if he gets hurt again, and that could keep him on the inactive roster. [Bernie now can't get back into action soon enough, what with Livings facing the Turk -- Big Nate was on the non-football injury list rather than PUP to start the year]
Livings deal -- as Dr. P repeats -- hasn't been restructured, and he's 31 years old, while the versatile Ryan Cook is 30. If Kevin Kowalski can come all the way back from his injury, both Cook and Livings appear to be gone at final cuts. But if the interior OL injuries keep piling up this preseason, not only will Dallas have to take a hard look at Waters or Moore, they'll also have to scour the waiver wire at final cuts for yet another G/C swing man.
UPDATE August 1, 2013: Cowboys have waived DE Cameron Sheffield injured, reached an injury settlement with Ike Igbinosun, and signed massive UTEP R-UDFA tackle James Nelson and 2nd year guard Jeff Olson, formerly of TCU. These transactions followed the team signing supplemental draft participant DE Toby Jackson out of Central Florida on Wednesday.