In 27 short days, the Dallas Cowboys kick off the 2013 NFL season against the New York Giants. As fans, most of us will be happy when the preseason is over, and the "real" football starts. After all, "it's just preseason," isn't it?
While that may be technically true, don't tell the Cowboys players battling for a roster spot that what they are doing "doesn't count."
- Tight ends Dante Rosario, Andre Smith and Colin Cochart are working hard to secure the fourth (and perhaps fifth) roster spot. For them, everything counts in the next few weeks.
- Wide receivers Danny Coale, Anthony Armstrong, Eric Rogers and Tim Benford are going to try very hard to get into the current five WR rotation or at least make a case that the Cowboys just can't get enough wide receivers and keep six.
- Nowhere is the battle for a roster spot tighter than at linebacker, where only three or four players out of Ernie Sims, Alex Albright, Caleb McSurdy, DeVonte Holloman, Brandon Magee, Taylor Reed, and Deon Lacey will get a spot, while the rest will be asked to leave in silence.
- At almost every other position, it's just a question of time until the first players are released.
27 days may sound like there is still ample time for the down-roster players to make a push for a spot on the 53-man roster, but the reality is that first cuts are just a short 16 days away. That doesn't leave too many opportunities to impress the coaches enough to secure a roster spot, but also means that every single practice, every single meeting and every single snap counts from here on out.
Here's an overview of the key dates left on the Cowboys' preseason schedule.
|Sunday, August 11||Training camp practice No. 14 - 5:15 p.m. PT|
|Monday, August 12||Training camp practice No. 15 - 4:00 p.m. PT|
|Tuesday, August 13||Training camp practice No. 16 - 4:00 p.m. PT|
|Wednesday, August 14||Training camp practice No. 17 - Hump day practice is closed to the public so OCC goes fishing.|
|Thursday, August 15||Training camp practice No. 18 - 5:15 p.m. PT. Final padded practice of camp|
|Friday, August 16||Cowboys break camp in Oxnard after final walkthrough at 9:00 am
|Saturday, August 17||Preseason game No. 3 vs Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game will be broadcast on NFL Network.|
|Saturday, August 24||Preseason game No. 4 vs Cincinnati Bengals. Kickoff at 8:00 p.m. ET at newly minted AT&T Stadium in Dallas. This game will be the preseason home opener and will also be the "dress rehearsal game" in which the starters play the majority of snaps.
|Tueday, August 27||First cuts: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, the Cowboys must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 75 players on the Active List.|
|Thursday, August 29||Final preseason game vs Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium at 8:00 p.m. ET. This is also the day Jay Ratliff turns 32. Send your birthday greetings to @JayRat90|
|August 31||Final roster cuts: Prior to 6:00 p.m. ET, Cowboys must reduce roster to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.|
|September 1||Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 p.m., New York time.|
|September 1||Beginning at 12:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an Accrued Season of free agency credit or who were on the 46-player Active List for less than nine regular season games during each of any Accrued Seasons. A player cannot serve on the Practice Squad for more than three seasons.|
Regular Season opener: The Cowboys take on the Giants at home in a Sunday Night Football game. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.