Earlier this preseason, I wrote a post in which I divided the players in camp into three groups: those that were locks to make the roster (d'oh! Andre Gurode was in that group); guys on the bubble; and players who had no roster shot. Since then, I have been carefully parsing the various camp reports (which dwindled and then ceased) and watched the second halves of the last two preseason games both evaluating and looking for clues to the puzzle that is the "53," that select group who will have the privilege of wearing the star in 2011.
Since my first effort, several players have, in my estimation, played themselves into a roster spot. Others have played themselves out of one. To wit: prior to the San Diego game, I estimated that 37 men had secured roster spots. I now figure 43 spots are sewn up. Minus Gurode and Dwayne Harris, who I moved from "In" back to the bubble, that means eight players have earned a star (from Rabble) in the past two weeks: Alex Albright, Alan Ball, Keith Brooking, Jesse Holley, Sean Lissemore, Kevin Kowalski, Bryan McCann and Danny McCray have all moved from the "bubble" group to "In" status. In that same time-span, only Brandon Williams, who was atrocious against Minnesota, has moved from bubble to "out box."
After the jump, lets take a look at who falls within which category and then follow that up with some speculation about which guys are battling for which remaining spots.
If this is accurate, there are 22 guys fighting for 10 remaining roster spots. Those numbers suggest that most of these remaining spots will come down to one-on-one roster battles at specific positions. As a result, it couldn't hurt to present a quick review:
CB: Thomas and Butler are battling it out for the final spot
RB: which one sticks: Choice or Tanner? It seems that Miller's run is over...
FB: Gronkowski v. Chapas v. Greenhouse v. Pociask
WR: The 5th receiver battle appears to be between Radway and Harris
K: will any of the many candidates currently on the roster emerge?
In addition, there appear to be several roster constitution questions, which will come down to, for example, whether the coaches feel that the fifth inside linebacker is a better player or will help the team more than the sixth corner, or whether they need two backup offensive tackles or a seventh defensive lineman. Some of these are:
ILB: will they keep Orie Lemon--a fifth ILB?
TE: does Rucker make the team? How does the Bennett injury impact this situation?
FB: will the Cowboys keep a FB on the roster?
OG: Its been speculated that Holland will be a backup guard. I'm a bit skeptical about his profile and how well he fits...
OT: Sam Young: Will Dallas keep him? He's looked awfully stiff...
DS: will 2010 fourth0rounder Akwasi Owusu-Ansah stick?His play hasn't justified a roster spot...
These guys offer the discerning fan plenty of opportunities for interest in what, if history is any indication, should prove to be a less than scintillating contest. And before you say that the bottom of the roster doesn't matter, pause to consider what the 53rd guy did last November. Remember him? Fellow by the name of Bryan McCann...