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Last Four In, Last Four Out, v. 2.0: Cowboys 53 Man Roster Projection

Lonyae Miller's struggles against the Broncos might have cost him a roster spot
Lonyae Miller's struggles against the Broncos might have cost him a roster spot

With the first preseason game under our belts, what better time could there be for another rush to judgment, and a ridiculously early 53-man roster projection? The Denver game offered up a singular opportunity to evaluate the dudes at the bottom of the roster--which is precisely where roster projections are most difficult. So, as a base, I'll take what we thought the roster looked like before the game and adjust it according to what we learned during the game.

As a pre-game base, I'll be using KD's excellent stab at who will don the star. For those of you who missed it, I suggest you check it out. KD's overall layout and central idea, wherein he offered both a 53 and explained the last four players to make his roster and the last four to be visited by the Turk, was so smart that I just had to adopt it. I made minute adjustments to his shrewd projection based almost exclusively on who performed well against the Broncos--and who didn't.

Check out who is on and off Rabble's roster after the jump...

Last Four… Player Notes
OUT OG Montrae Holland I think Arkin starts by midseason, anyway, so why keep progress stopper around? He's shown himself to be a "WKG." Garrett sends team a message, cuts fatso.
  RB Lonyae Miller Miller has been one of the best stories in camp, but didn't show much vision or ability to create in game. Upstaged by Tanner, who did show these qualities.
  DS Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
Although he's essentially a rookie, and that could keep him on roster, AOA has failed to demonstrate he can play. Bid adieu to another Wade Phillips pick.
  K Kai Forbath
I'm not sure about Forbath's injury, but I suspect he might get stashed on IR or PUP for the future. He's highly touted, but how much longer can they wait?
IN K Dan Bailey
I'm betting that Bailey rights the ship, whereas David Buehler shows he'll always be inconsistent. Doesn't mean he'll still be kicking by week 10.
  RB Phillip Tanner
I continue to believe that Garrett wants to replace Choice if possible. Tanner has shown that he can do it in games, where it counts. Good wiggle, vision, burst.
  DS Andrew Sendejo
Because Alan Ball can back up at free safety, Cowboys can keep Sendejo, another special teams demon. Doesn't mean they stop looking for upgrade @ position.
  OT Jermey Parnell
We've been told that Young is the "swing tackle," but Jermey Parnell played the majority of the game at LT. I think Parnell passes Young, but Young sticks, barely.


Here's the projected 53 Man Roster. Players highlighted in bold are who I believe start (or get more snaps than a starter at another position)

QB (3): Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

RB (3): Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray, Phillip Tanner

FB (1): Shaun Chapas

WR (5): Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Jesse Holley

TE: (3) Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips

OL (9): Doug Free, David Arkin, Andre Gurode, Kyle Kosier, Tyron Smith, Jermey Parnell, Phil Costa, Bill Nagy, Sam Young

DL (6): Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman, Josh Brent, Sean Lissemore

OLB (4): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Alex Albright

ILB (5): Bradie James, Sean Lee, Keith Brooking, Kenwin Cummings, Orie Lemon

CB (6): Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Bryan McCann, Alan Ball, Josh Thomas

S (4): Abe Elam, Gerald Sensabaugh, Barry Church, Danny McCray, Andrew Sendejo

ST (3): Mat McBriar, L.P. Ladoucer, Dan Bailey

Tough spots for me:

1. I tried to knock Alan Ball off of the roster, but with the questions re: Terrence Newman's health combined with his ability to play FS (better backup than AOA at present), thought they'd go with him. Plus, Ball is good on special teams, which receives a premium in my analysis. With that in mind, there's definitely a roster spot available for Jesse Holley, who was consistently the first man downfield on kick coverage Thursday, and Sendejo. Cummings makes team because of ST potential as well. Coach D has nice special teams core.

2. I wanted to keep 10 offensive linemen, but couldn't find that tenth guy, and felt strongly that Montrae Holland doesn't deserve to make the 53. That said, where's the guy on the roster who can fill in at guard? I'm not sure that Costa can go it and Nagy isn't ready. If they do cut Holland, I wouldn't be surprised to see them pickup a more mobile vet after week one (so they don't have to guarantee his salary for the entire year).


The most observant of you may notice that I bolded Victor Butler whereas KD didn't. That's because I think he'll play so much in Ryan's exotic schemes that he'll accumulate "starter's snaps"--much like a third corner would (which is why Scandrick gets the highly-coveted bolding too). And he'd deserve it; the dude's had a great preseason.


The positional numbers on my projected 53 man roster are the same as KD's previous list. Let's take a look at how our  breakdowns compare with what we've seen from the Cowboys in the recent past:

Position 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Quarterback 3 3 3 2 2 2
Running Back 3 3 3 3 3 3
Wide Receiver 5 5 5 5 6 6
Tight End 3 2 3 3 3 3
Fullback 1 2 1 1 2 1
Offensive Line 9 10 10 11 10 9
Defensive Line 6 7 6 6 6 7
Linebackers 9 9 9 8 8 9
Defensive Backs 11 9 9 11 10 9
of which: CB 6 3 4 7 5 5
of which: S 5 6 5 4 5 4
Specialists 3 3 4 3 3 4

Given the relatively shallow pool of talent at defensive back, it seems a bit peculiar that the Cowboys would go heavy at the position, so that will bear some watching. Units where they could go heavier: Outside linebacker, which historically is the playmaking unit on Ryan's defense, as many of them play inside in passing situations, or FB, where both Chapas and Gronkowski could make the team, if there's room for them on special teams.

So what are your thoughts, BTB? Are there any changes you'd make to this projection? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

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