So the upcoming game is going to be a battle for roster spots, meaning we should see lots of sloppy play in the game. OK, maybe that’s too harsh when judging the 2nd and 3rd strings, but it will certainly be a different kind of game.
The cornerback battle should be the one to watch for the Cowboys, we have to find someone capable of starting in place of Newman as a contingency.
Some other battles to be solved.
The fifth safety spot:
Abram Elam vs. Courtney Brown for the fifth safety spot. That’s assuming the Cowboys keep five safeties which they may not considering the needs at other positions. I got Elam ahead right now because of his established experience on special teams.
The sixth receiver spot:
I’ve got TNT, Crayton, Hurd and Stanback as the top five in terms of making the team, but the sixth spot is a battle between Miles Austin and Jerheme Urban. Austin is the leader in my book because of his kickoff return value and coverage abilities on punts, Urban might have closed the gap with some good punt returns, but hasn’t made much of his opportunities.
Backup nose tackle:
Jay Ratliff proved to Wade Phillips he could be the guy if needed, but Remi Ayodele gets one more opportunity to show he’s the man for the job. Ayodele needs a great showing for any chance to make the 53-man roster. What happens to him could also affect what happens to Stephen Bowen, who is the 4th DE if Ratliff is the backup nose tackle.
Oliver Hoyte seems to be the clear-cut favorite to start, but who will back him up and how many FB’s will the Cowboys keep? I’ve got Lousaka Polite barely ahead of Deon Anderson in this competition, but both guys should get plenty of opportunity in this game.
Phillips was unimpressed with the work of Junior Glymph and the rest of the guys so far, so much so that Bobby Carpenter is ranked as the 3rd OLB behind starters Ware and Spencer. The decision here will be influenced by the expected return of Greg Ellis (see below) but guys like Glymph, Khari Long and John Saldi get one more try to state their case.
Witten and Fasano are the guys and Tony Curtis has made the case for the third TE spot. It’s up to Adam Bergen to show that they should keep him as a 4th TE, but I think that’s a longshot.
Sealing the deal as the kicker:
Nick Folk will be the kicker in this game and has the opportunity to claim the kicker position outright for himself. All eyes will be on his performance.
Todd Archer has a similar article posted, here.
Injury update courtesy of the DMN.
Greg Ellis' examination of his left Achilles' with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday confirmed what the Cowboys have been telling the outside linebacker since July – he's fine and that he's still day-to-day with bursitis.
Ellis is expected back at Valley Ranch today and most likely will not play Thursday.
K Martin Gramatica (hamstring), T Doug Free (knee), WR Terry Glenn (knee), LB Kevin Burnett (ankle surgery) and CB Terence Newman (heel) missed practice. Burnett had bone chips removed Tuesday. ... DE Marcus Smith was carted off the field after injuring his knee. ... TE Anthony Fasano (shoulder) and FB Oliver Hoyte (neck) returned to practice.