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29-Day Warning: Everything Counts For Cowboys Players Battling For Roster Spots

It may still be the preseason, but don't tell the Cowboys players battling for a roster spot that what they are doing "doesn't count."

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys played their first preseason game yesterday, which means in just 29 short days they'll kick off the 2015 NFL season against the New York Giants. As fans, most of us will be happy when the preseason is over, and the "real" football starts. After all, "it's just preseason," isn't it?

While that may be technically true, don't tell the Cowboys players battling for a roster spot that what they are doing "doesn't count."

  • Wide receivers Lucky Whitehead, Nick Harwell, Reggie Dunn, Antwan Goodley, Deontay Greenberry and A.J. Jenkins are working hard to secure the fifth (and perhaps sixth) receiver spot. For them, everything counts in the next few weeks.
  • Defensive ends Ben Gardner, Ryan Russell, Lavar Edwards, Kenneth Boatright, and Efe Obada will try very hard to get into the current DE rotation or at least make a case that the Cowboys just can't get enough pass rushers and keep at least five or six.
  • Nowhere is the battle for a roster spot tighter than at linebacker, where eight linebackers will likely battle for the two or three open spots behind Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens, and Kyle Wilber: Damien Wilson, Andrew Gachkar, Jasper Brinkley, Mark Nzeocha, Donnie Baggs, Justin Jackson, Keith Smith, Jonathan Brown, and Ka'lial. The rest will be asked to leave in silence.
  • At almost every other position, it's just a question of time until the first players are released.

29 days may sound like there is still ample time for the down-roster players to make a push for a spot on the 53-man roster, but the reality is that first cuts are just a short 18 days away. That doesn't leave too many opportunities to impress the coaches enough to secure a roster spot, but also means that every single practice, every single meeting and every single snap counts from here on out.

Here's an overview of the key dates left on the Cowboys' preseason schedule.

Date Schedule
Saturday, August 15 Training camp practice No. 12 - 3:45 p.m. PT
Sunday, August 16 Training camp practice No. 13 - 3:45 p.m. PT
Monday, August 17 Training camp practice No. 14 - 3:45 p.m. PT - Practice with St. Louis Rams
Tuesday, August 18 Training camp practice No. 15 - 3:45 p.m. PT - Practice with St. Louis Rams
Thursday, August 20 Training camp practice No. 16 - 3:45 p.m. PT
Friday, August 21 Training camp practice No. 17 - 10:30 a.m. PT
Sunday, August 23 Preseason game No. 2 @ San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Tuesday, August 25 Training camp practice No. 18 - 3:45 p.m. PT
Wednesday, August 26 Training camp practice No. 19 - 10:30 a.m. PT
Thursday, August 27 Training camp practice No. 20 - 3:45 p.m. PT
Saturday, August 29 Preseason game No. 3 vs Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium.
Tuesday, September 1 First cuts: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, the Cowboys must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 75 players on the Active List.
Thursday, September 3
Final preseason game vs Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Saturday, September 5 Final roster cuts: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Sunday, September 6 Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Sunday, September 6 Beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of eight players.
Sunday, September13 Regular Season opener: The Cowboys take on the Giants at home in a Sunday Night Football game. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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