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Dallas Cowboys On The Bubble In 2012

Stephen McGee is just one player whose job is on the line for the Dallas Cowboys
Stephen McGee is just one player whose job is on the line for the Dallas Cowboys

It is exciting to see the new talent that the Dallas Cowboys have acquired through the draft and as UDFAs. With the rookie minicamp coming up on Friday, we will get our first chance to see how these new players look. Well, those of us here at BTB will at least get to see what others think, since we don't actually get to go see them, but there will be some news out of the camp to discuss, hash out, and dissect. It will be nice to have something other than college scouting reports and highlight videos to go over.

We are all wondering how many of these new guys will earn the right to wear the Star. (I do hope Jason Garrett continues his new tradition of making them wear blank helmets until they make the roster.) And in some cases, we are also eagerly waiting to see who will lose that right.

The hope, of course, is that every new player added to the roster is better/younger/more affordable, and makes the team as a whole better. There are certainly established players on the current roster who know they will have a roster spot when the team goes to New Jersey to open the season on September 5th. But there are also a lot of names who are now on the bubble. They are going to have to defend their roster slot by proving they are better than the new kids on the . . . field. Some will be players that many will hate to see go. Others will have volunteers from here to go help them clean out their lockers.

There will be churn. The always analytical OCC is working on a post about how many players are with the team from the starting roster of 2010. The count is 24 right now. And it is going to be smaller at the start of the 2012 season as Jason Garrett continues to remake the team in the RKG image.

Related: Cowboys Offseason 2012: Retooling The Roster

Here is a look at which of the players currently on the official roster (taken from the team's official website) are most likely to be on the bubble.

If, of course, you follow past the jump.

I am making a few judgements on who will definitely be with the team. I came up with 28 names that I feel are as close to a lock to be on the roster as possible unless they choose otherwise (unexpected retirement or such). The other names are listed below by position. I used the positions the team has each player currently occupying.

Quarterback: Rudy Carpenter, Stephen McGee. At the moment, this is a two man competition for the third spot, assuming the team is going to go with three on the roster again. It is possible, with a high-quality backup like Kyle Orton, that both these players could lose their jobs, but for now I assume one will stay and the team will bid the other goodbye. Most of the rooting here is probably for Carpenter to oust McGee due to the latter's apparent lack of progress. The wild card here is Nathan Dick, who has been invited to rookie minicamp. He could conceivably bump both the others, and make sure that Tarheel Paul and Nickthegrip have an endless supply of marginally acceptable jokes to inflict upon us.

Running back: Phillip Tanner. I have already done a post on the coming competition between Tanner, Lance Dunbar, and Darrell Scott. This one makes me want the team to carry four running backs, because I like what Tanner did last year and I think Dunbar has a lot of potential. But I fear only one of the three will remain.

Fullback: Shaun Chapas, Isaiah Greenhouse. This one could be bad news for both of these players, if Greenhouse is looked at strictly as a fullback. The team has only carried one active fullback in recent years, and that slot seems well claimed by FA Lawrence Vickers. At least maybe we will stop having to hear about Henry Hynoski.

Wide Receiver: Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Kevin Ogletree, Raymond Radway. OK, how many here are ready to see the Tree sent off to the lumber mill? I think he is in the weakest position of these, and with Danny Coale and four UDFAs coming after him, we are likely to have seen him fall. (But will anybody hear?) Of course, he could come into the OTAs and blow everyone away, which is true of all of these names. It will be a bit of a shame to lose any of the others, because I think they are pretty talented guys. And who isn't pulling for Radway, the victim of the brutal broken leg with three seconds to go in pre-season last year? Josh Ellis caught up with him in an article at the mothership.

Eight long months later, near fully-recovered, he feels close again.

"Everything is full-go right now," Radway said recently. "I'm cutting, I'm running routes. ... As far as the speed, I'm at about 95 percent of where I was, but I can feel it coming back. It's looking promising."

And, as mentioned later in that article, he is still considered a contender to make the final roster.

Though he's been out of sight for much of the last year, the Cowboys have not put Radway out of their minds. Coaches and front office members now mention him in the same breath as Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale and all other comers in the competition for the vacant third wide receiver job.

But somebody has to go. There are just too many names here.

Tight end: Nobody. With only John Phillips and the incomparable Jason Witten currently on the roster, the team needs to add someone.

Center/Guard: David Arkin, Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski, Bill Nagy. This is the great mystery in my mind. I wonder how the staff, particularly Bill Callahan, currently perceives these Yuglies. I did not include Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, because I don't expect the team to dump them after going after them in free agency - but I would not be totally amazed if one of them wound up getting beat out. It just seems highly unlikely. Even if Livings or Bernadeau are secure, it is possible that all four of these players could survive the challenge from Ronald Leary. But just looking at numbers, it is also likely one of these guys will be gone. Very hard to even come up with a guess here.

Tackle: Nobody. With Jermey Parnell's recent contract, I don't see any of the current OTs going anywhere. If anything, I would love to see one of the UDFAs getting a look to make the squad for depth.

Safety: Barry Church, Danny McCray, Mana Silva. Draftee Matt Johnson and UDFA Eddie Whitley are both getting some very nice reviews, and I figure at least one of them makes the team. Here, I like Church and McCray, but the numbers game is definitely in play here. All three of these guys are going to have to prove themselves, although my two favorites may have some advantage with a year in Rob Ryan's defense under their belts.

Cornerback: Mario Butler, Mike Jenkins, Justin Taplin-Ross, Teddy Williams, C. J. Wilson. Jenkins should not be on this list, but the apparently accurate reports that he asked to be traded put him here. As for the rest, there already seems to be too many here for all to make it with the top three cornerback slots filled by Pick 6 Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, and Orlando Scandrick. And UDFAs Isaac Madison, Lionel Smith, and Troy Woolfolk have all gotten some nice press. Could it be that the biggest issue here is that there are too many talented young corners to choose from? Is the Apocalypse nigh?

Outside Linebacker: Alex Albright, Victor Butler. This is a crucial year for Butler, when he will either step up and prove his worth, or fall by the wayside. He is one of the few remaining survivors from the dreaded 2009 draft class, and I sometimes suspect that alone is a huge strike against him. I think it is conceivable, maybe likely, that John Phillips will be the last reminder of that dismal example of ineptitude in 2012. Albright also can't be too comfortable given what I have read about Kyle Wilber and Adrian Hamilton.

Inside Linebacker: Orie Lemon, Brashton Satele. I see one available spot for a backup here. And in addition to being a draft pick (albeit the last one), Caleb McSurdy can backup both ILB and FB, plus he has a lot of the hallmarks of a future ST devastator. Not to mention having one of the best football names ever.

Defensive End: Baraka Atkins, Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher. Hatcher is one name that I waffled about putting on this list. His one negative mark is that he is getting a little older, turning 30 before the start of the season. One of these players will likely stay with the team, just due to there only being one real DE candidate currently signed for the rookie minicamp. But Tyrone Crawford takes one of the two positions I see being available. So it appears inevitable that Coleman or Spears will be left out after camp closes this summer - and who knows what Atkins might do?

Defensive Tackle: Josh Brent, Robert Callaway. There is a clear youth movement going on with the Cowboys which may favor Brent. I also am very intrigued by Callaway (whose name shows up as Calloway on the mothership, but Callaway everywhere else I can find).

Special Teams: Chris Jones. I think he is one of the more likely people on this whole list to stay with the team, but the Cowboys are reportedly bringing in a punter to try out during the rookie minicamp. And did you know that Danny Coale did some punting in college? Sorry, but the thought of using him in fourth and short situations just strikes me as a real headache for the other team. Anybody got a phone number for Joe Decamillis?

So, anybody have a favorite, or should I say, least favorite player currently on the roster?


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