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Ellis injury leaves uncertainty on the roster

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What’s to become of Greg Ellis? During the offseason we had plenty of debate over his health, and when he could effectively come back to play. I stuck with the line that he might come back, but he won’t be 100%. But I still thought he would be sharing time with Anthony Spencer once the season began. Now Ellis is talking like he may never play again. The conventional wisdom of an Ellis/Spencer combo at OLB might have to be tossed.

I’ve given up trying to pin down just exactly what’s going on with Greg Ellis. Over the past few offseasons he’s complained about something, usually money or his spot on the roster. Earlier this year, he didn’t bother to hide his frustration about the Cowboy’s spending their number one pick, again, on his position. The coach says Ellis is day-to-day, as do the trainers, but Ellis wonders if he’ll ever play again. I watched him in San Antonio, and he was moving pretty well, he didn’t look to be in severe pain. But Ellis insists the pain is there and it’s keeping him off the field. I have no reason to doubt him, even though the previous sentences may give that impression. If he wanted more money, and wanted to hold on to his starting position, then I believe he would practice if he could.

The Cowboys might have to start facing the reality that Ellis won’t be ready to go. There’s a lot of the preseason left so he could come back soon and have no problems picking up the defense, he’s a vet and he knows the OLB spot now. So maybe this will all be moot within a week or two. But if he doesn’t come back soon – or ever – what are the options for Dallas?

It’s obvious that Anthony Spencer will be the starter, but who will back him up? After watching training camp, I think the Cowboys are set on Bobby Carpenter and Kevin Burnett working in the middle on the 2nd-team and in passing formations. They did have Carpenter run some pass rushing drills on the edge, but that was probably more as a down-end in the 4-man nickel line on the second team. He’s already working some starting nickel packages at MLB. Kevin Burnett is also involved in the pass coverage formations at middle linebacker. I’m not sure the Cowboys want to upset that arrangement. They still have hold-over Junior Glymph at OLB and he’s had a very good camp so far. He’s been backing up DeMarcus Ware, but he could possibly be a swing OLB backing up both Spencer and Ware.

Also, you have UDFA Alex Obomese, the kid who has been making plays at training camp and made another one in the preseason game. Right now, the combination of Glymph and Obomese would be enough for me to keep Carpenter in the middle, where he seems to fit. The starting 4-man line for the nickel currently consists of Ware, Canty, Ratliff, and Spencer. If needed, Carpenter and Glymph, a former defensive end, could spell either Ware or Spencer in that formation.

So I’d keep things just like they are if Ellis doesn’t play at the start of the season and use Glymph as a swing OLB and keep Obomese on the roster. Of course, that’s only if Obomese keeps making plays; when you’re trying to make the roster as an UDFA, you need to be on every week.

We signed a lineman, this from Todd Archer at the DMN blog.

The Cowboys dipped into the Arena Football League by signing offensive lineman Jason Hilliard.
Hilliard played for Columbus this season, helping upset the Jerry Jones-owned Desperados in the divisional round of the playoffs. He caught a touchdown pass in ArenaBowl XXI. He has spent time in the NFL with Green Bay, the New York Giants and St. Louis after his career at Louisville. He played in two games for the Giants in 2004.

Also, the place to get practice reports is the DMN blog.