Training camp is barely two weeks old. No preseason games have been played. There are a number of injured players not on the list. And for all we know, the depth chart was put together by an intern at Valley Ranch. Yet we can't help but try to divine meaning from a list that's bound to be obsolete by this time next week.
In the old Soviet Union, Kremlinologists tried to infer meaning by the way curtains were drawn in the Kremlin, by which pictures were on display on which walls during which events or from seating arrangements at the Red Square parades. After the break, we assume the mantle of Garrettologists and look at the indirect signs conveyed by the Cowboys depth chart to understand how the position battles for a spot on the 53-man roster have been going so far.
Some of the injured players like Tashard Choice or DeMarco Murray don't show up on the depth chart at all, while others like Keith Brooking, Terence Newman or Bruce Carter are listed at the very bottom of the depth chart. Whether this has any meaning is anybody's guess, but we'll have to keep the injured players in mind as we walk through the depth chart, which at this point in time predictably offers more questions than answers.
Wide Receiver: Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are at the top here, and Ogletree looks like the third receiver for now. Somewhat surprisingly, it looks like Jesse Holley is the fourth receiver, ahead of Dwayne Harris and Manuel Johnson, who look like they're battling it out for the remaining fifth receiver roster spot. Raymond Radway and Titus Ryan don't look to figure in the depth chart battle - yet.
Offensive Tackle: Free and Smith are set as the starters here, and they are backed up by Sam Young and Jermey Parnell respectively. There's no way to tell from the depth chart how far apart Young and Parnell are, but those two may be fighting over who the swing tackle could be on the game day roster.
Guard: The surprise here starts right at the top, where Holland and Kosier are penciled in as the starters as expected, but David Arkin is slotted in as Kosier's backup. All camp we've been hearing about how Arkin could maybe, potentially, perhaps challenge Holland for the starting spot, but it seems that whoever put together the depth chart may have a different take on this.
Fullback: It looks like Chris Gronkowski gets the returning starter bonus here, and is ahead of Shaun Chapas and Jason Pociask. But my understanding is that the competition for the FB spot is much, much closer than the depth chart indicates, and that converted tight end Jason Pociask may even have a leg up in the competition so far.
Defensive End: The surprise that jumps off the page here is that last year's starters have switched positions. Olshansky is now listed at LDE and Spears at RDE. I don't know whether this has any meaning by itself, but it's probably fair to assume that Ryan's scheme will see a lot of ration at DE, so the depth chart may have relatively little value at this position anyway.
Outside linebacker: Victor Butler and Brandon Williams are listed as the primary backups for Ware and Spencer. Williams in particular may face stiff competition from training camp favorite Alex Albright ("That’s a wonderful story," Rob Ryan said of Mark Herzlich and the Giants, "and I like that young man over there, but I like 47 [Albright] a whole lot better.") and my own personal pet cat, Alex Daniels, a converted DE.
Safeties: Sensabaugh and Elam at the top as expected, with AOA and and Church holding off Danny McCray and Andrew Sendejo. By most accounts, Church seems to have a firmer grip on the backup role than AOA at this point.
Specialists: No surprises here unless you consider David Buehler as the lead kicker as a surprise. Dez Bryant dispelled any doubts about who would be returning punts once the regular season starts:
"It's still on. I'm probably not going to do none in the preseason. Punt return? I got it. That's me. I love it."