I've decided to forgo the "traditional" 53-man roster prediction this week, instead opting to take a look at the younger players that have likely earned a spot on the team already, those that are on the bubble and those that are facing the Turk come next week.
With just one preseason game left and less than two weeks before the official start of the season, the Cowboys will have to go from 75 players down to 53 by Saturday; not much time to make 22 cuts after the game against Miami. To get to the mandatory 75 this afternoon, the Cowboys already released Pat Watkins, Terrell Hudgins and Scott Sicko.
After the jump, I take a look at the players fighting for a roster spot and what I believe to be their standing heading into Thursday night's game. I've left out the obvious choices to make the team; no sense in discussing Roy Williams here. I've also listed who I believe the Cowboys should target for the practice squad.
First up: the offense.
On the bubble - Stephen McGee
If Stephen McGee doesn't have at least a somewhat decent game against Miami, in which he'll get the chance to play significant time with the second team and even some of the first teamers, then it seems as if the Cowboys could be preparing to move on. While you don't like to see a team give up on a 4th round pick so quickly, especially a quarterback that was known to be a project, the Cowboys are facing tough decisions at other positions that could turn the numbers game against McGee.
He has the tools: he's athletic, he's accurate and he has a strong arm. The problem is between the ears, as he's yet to show any confidence in himself and has not been aggressive downfield at all. Is that because of the offensive line in front of him? Perhaps, but he'll have a shot on Thursday to prove he belongs on this team for at least one more season.
Here comes the Turk - Herb Donaldson, Lonyae Miller
There have been flashes at times from Miller but there was no way that either of these two would supplant the Jones, Barber and Choice on the roster. On Thursday, it's going to be a battle for the practice squad.
Safe - Deon Anderson, Chris Gronkowski
After watching the game against the Texans, and getting what limited data I could from Jason Garrett's offensive formations, I'm more convinced than ever that the Cowboys will roll with two tight ends and two fullbacks. Gronkowski was one of the bright spots from Saturday night and has shown the ability to catch, block and run with the ball. If anything, he might be pushing Deon Anderson.
On the bubble - Martin Rucker
Here comes the Turk -DajLeon Farr, Jason Pociask
Could Rucker supplant Gronkowski as the team's third TE, and FB-HB hybrid? I doubt it, but I still think he's getting the chance to do so. He's experienced (somewhat) but it's tough to think that with Gronkowski getting so many first-team reps on Saturday night against Houston that he's going anywhere. Farr and Pociask were nothing but camp bodies.
Safe - Sam Hurd, Kevin Ogletree
Here comes the Turk - Jesse Holley, Manuel Johnson
This was the toughest decision I had to make. Is Ogletree on the bubble? Is Hurd? Both had decent games against Houston (relatively) and with Patrick Watkins being released you have to think that Coach D will want at least some of his special teams staples back this season. Both Hurd and Ogletree are more than capable on coverage and return teams and I doubt the Cowboys are willing to give up on Ogletree's potential this season.
Safe - Phil Costa, Robert Brewster
On the bubble - Sam Young, Travis Bright
Here comes the Turk - Mike Tepper, Pat McQuistan, Will Barker
The only reason I feel that Young isn't safe and that Bright might still have a chance is the fact that the Cowboys will have just one backup OG going into Washington, and he's likely going to start. As it is, Bright is the only other guard that has shown promise. Brewster is set to be the swing tackle behind Alex Barron, Costa is the backup center, and Young is another tackle. The numbers will make this one interesting and I fear that Young may be the victim. His injury certainly doesn't help matters, even if the Cowboys love his tenacity and his poise.
Practice squad candidates: Lonyae Miller, Sam Young, Jesse Holley, Travis Bright