Dallas Cowboys News: Practice Squad Set, Jeff Heath Seized His Chance

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Although there is still a lot of time and more moves are likely to be made by Dallas, the roster is getting closer to the shape it will have to start the season.

Dallas Cowboys Initial Practice Squad Set - Blogging The Boys

Just in case you missed the list: QB Alex Tanney, WR Danny Coale, WR Tim Benford, G Ray Dominguez, DL Jason Vega, LB Cam Lawrence, CB Micah Pellerin, and S Jakar Hamilton.

Kyle Bosworth heads to Dallas - ProFootballTalk

Kyle Bosworth was the Cowboys' only waiver claim, picked up from the New York Giants. For those of you who remember, he has an interesting relative.

Bosworth, who is the nephew of 1980s college football icon and NFL disappointment Brian Bosworth, was a somewhat surprising cut by the Giants after it seemed like he had carved out a niche for himself as a special teamer and backup linebacker this summer.

He grew up in Plano, a Dallas suburb, and seems rather pleased with the development.

Breaking down the New York Giants' 53-man roster - Dan Graziano, ESPN

Dan Graziano has an interesting explanation on why the Giants made the unexpected move to cut Bosworth in his look at the current Giants roster.

Linebackers (5): Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, Dan Connor, Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich

Mild surprise they cut Kyle Bosworth and went with just five, but as we've discussed many times here, the Giants simply don't care about this position.

So that explains Dan Conner . . .

Late Moves Show Big Emphasis On Special Teams - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com

Both Bosworth and earlier pickup Edgar Jones are seen as mostly helping special teams, and there were several other decisions made by the team that also were designed to upgrade a dismal pre-season performance by Rich Bisaccia's group.

But if we've seen any kind of theme here in the last few days pertaining to the roster, it's a rare emphasis on improving the special teams units.

For starters, the Cowboys decided to keep both Danny McCray and Eric Frampton as backup safeties, along with Jeff Heath and J.J. Wilcox. Obviously, McCray had to reduce his salary from $1.32 million to about $730,000 or he would've likely been released. Still, they didn't have to keep him and Frampton - two players who have lead the team in special teams tackles over the last three years.

Scout's Eye: Edgar Jones and Kyle Bosworth - Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com

After watching some video on them, Bryan Broaddus concurs with Eatman on the emphasis on special teams as evidenced by picking up Jones and Bosworth.

(On Jones) Is the left guard on the punt team. Will handle his responsibility, get rid of man, then work up the field. Did not see him give up any pressures. Plays as a blocker on the punt return. Like his work on kickoff return, he grabs his man and stays with him up the field. Looks more mobile in space doing this than playing on defense. Did not see any huge problems or mistakes with his assignments. Plays with good awareness.

(On Bosworth) Like Edgar Jones, will be a core player on the special teams, plays on all of them. Plays as the R5 as well on the kickoff team. Great effort to hustle down, take on the blocker, then find the ball. Really like his awareness. Reads well. Had two tackles in the New England game.

Not a good fit: DL Sean Lissemore traded to San Diego for 7th round pick - David Moore, DMN

Sean Lissemore was apparently traded to make room for Bosworth, and he was expendable because of his performance.

Lissemore was a versatile backup at defensive end and nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme the Cowboys previously ran. But he's had trouble finding a role in the transition to a 4-3 and was outplayed by Nick Hayden - a player who was on the street this time last year - in training camp

It is good to see a player who was a bit of a favorite here at BTB (right, quincyyyyy?) get another shot.

Cowboys back in developing a QB stage - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas

One of the interesting things to watch around here was the way many people (including me for a while, I will admit) worked themselves into deciding Alex Tanney was not only a good practice squad candidate, but might be worth a roster spot. The game against the Houston Texans brought many of us back to earth, and the more rational ones who always maintained that he would clear waivers were vindicated. And now the team has a season to coach him to see what they have.

It seems as if Tanney's skill set gives the Cowboys confidence they want to develop him.

One of Tanney's best attributes is his arm strength in terms of throwing deep passes. Several times in the preseason, Tanney wasn't afraid to let it fly with pressure in his face. Coach Jason Garrett said he was pleased with Tanney's progress over the summer.

For Dallas, five TEs seem a bit much now - Todd Archer, ESPN

Just one of the reasons that there might be more to come in the way of roster moves.

Can the Cowboys take all five to the game? And if they can't take all five to the game, why did they keep five?

Witten and Hanna are the top two. Escobar, the second-round pick, has strength limitations but he could have a red zone package. Rosario is supposedly the better special-teamer than Smith, but he played a part in three breakdowns in the preseason. Smith is the blocker in the bunch.

Cowboys' Gavin Escobar sits and waits - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas

It seems that Escobar will be the most criticized 2013 draft pick by the Cowboys, at least for a while.

Escobar will get his time with quarterback Tony Romo, but he's still developing a skill at blocking blitzing linebackers and chipping defensive ends in 4-3 schemes, and while he's still learning he will remain behind Witten and Hanna on the depth chart.

It makes you wonder why the Cowboys drafted Escobar anyway, given how the team had a second-round grade on Frederick and could have gotten him anyway without a trade. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert was considered the best tight end in the draft and available for the Cowboys in the first round.

Jeff Heath Capitalizes on Matt Johnson Injury - The Landry Hat

It is one of the sad truths of the NFL that one player's disaster is another's opportunity.

In this case Matt Johnson's injury opened the door for undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Heath to grab a spot on Dallas' 53-man roster. A long shot at the beginning of training camp, Heath has performed well and put together an impressive preseason consisting of 16 tackles, 11 solo, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 forced fumble. The forced fumble, coming against the Bengals in Week 4 of preseason on a textbook tackle, is probably what sealed the deal for Heath making the team.

Rookie B.W. Webb at key spot for Dallas - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas

One cut by the Cowboys that surprised many was Sterling Moore, especially since it left Dallas with only four cornerbacks (to go with six safeties).

Webb was behind veteran corners Brandon Underwood and Sterling Moore this summer but as the preseason progressed, the vets didn't make enough plays and were eventually released. There is more upside by using Webb because he's young and has displayed an ability to make some plays in the preseason.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant: Tony Romo, Derek Dooley have played big roles in helping me really understand the offense - DMN

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant: When it comes to wearing No. 88, Super Bowl expectations, I feel no pressure - DMN

The star wide receiver sat down for an interview, which was covered in two different (and very short) articles. One of the things he spoke about was his improved knowledge of the offense.

"I give a lot of credit to Tony (Romo), and I give a lot of credit to coach Derrick Dooley. He hasn't been here for too long, but he's been doing a terrific job with us. He breaks the game down so simple to where we can understand."

Cowboys' Barry Church plans to prove he's a bargain - Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas

You have to like his attitude about earning his paycheck.

Yes, Church heard a lot of the moaning and groaning after the Cowboys signed him in October to a four-year contract extension worth up to $12.4 million, including $3.8 million guaranteed. He's well aware that the Cowboys' front office was heavily criticized for committing to a largely unproven player who had just undergone surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

"Every day I try to go out there and prove to them - even in practice - that they made a good choice in signing me to a deal," Church said. "I know a lot of people were upset about that, but I'm trying to prove the naysayers wrong."

Browns claim six players, still need a kicker - ProFootballTalk

Brandon Magee was the only player waived by Dallas to be claimed by another team. Dallas reportedly had planned to bring him back to the practice squad, but now have Cameron Lawrence in what was likely his spot. However, the main reason I linked to this story is the picture chosen. I think it says a little something about the coverage of the NFL in general.

Cowboys Crunchtime Preview: BTB Sits Down With Former Cowboys Jay Novacek And Bradie James - Blogging The Boys

Speaking of covering things, don't forget to catch the podcast this week. In addition to the former Cowboys stars, it features Mike Fisher, one of the best Dallas beat writers going, and all of the front page writers. Cowboys goodness galore!

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