It's time for Dallas to cut its final players and make the first official 53-man roster for the 2015 Cowboys. I tried to make my 53 last night and kept 13 defensive linemen *after* putting Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain on the suspended list. That obviously will not work.
Going into last night's game, it was pretty clear that Dallas had significant depth at defensive line. I was hoping to see the competition play out on the field and be able to decide this morning. Unfortunately for me, but with very good news for Rod Marinelli's "waves of rushmen" concept, the bubble guys, who played all game yesterday, were all outstanding.
Greg Hardy will go on the reserve/suspended list. Nick Hayden, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Jeremy Mincey are probably your starting four, though Randy Gregory may be ready to take over that job sooner rather than later. He and Jack Crawford represent the final, completely safe spots on the roster.
One could be excused for thinking having only six secure spots on the roster a bad thing, but I have seven guys fighting for what I think will be the remaining four or five spots. Davon Coleman continues to be a force in the middle and may have taken the backup 1-tech job from Terrell McClain, who also had a nice game in his return to action for the Cowboys. Ken Bishop has been strong and had the best game of his preseason last night, actively penetrating and chasing players all over the field.
Then, at defensive end, Ryan Russell, Lavar Edwards, Ben Gardner, and even Efe Obada made their presence felt all game. I did see Russell quit on a play, but he has been the best of this bunch. Edwards and Gardner both held up against the run well and caused havoc in the backfield. Both have some rush ability, too. Obada plays much better than you would expect from someone who jumped from a European league straight to NFL level competition and makes a case for himself, but I think he was intended for the practice squad all along.
I also think Davon Coleman is safe because, after the way he's played this preseason, there's no way he stays on a practice squad anywhere in the NFL.
This morning, that left five names for three, maybe four spots. Ryan Russell, Lavar Edwards, Ben Gardner, Ken Bishop, and Terrell McClain. I had these guys all in a tight grouping and, in my very amateur opinion, Russell is the best, Gardner and Edwards are a toss up, and, at tackle, McClain is slightly ahead of Bishop. It's enough to give a guy the shakes, trying to decide.
Obviously, Ben Gardner has already been released, but that may not be the end of the cuts on the DL. I could see the Cowboys cutting Terrell McClain because he costs about twice as much as all these other players. Of course, he is also the only one not eligible for the practice squad, so you may consider that more important. I honestly do not believe any of these guys makes it through waivers, though, so I keep the younger, cheaper ones, even though McClain is neither old nor expensive.
Who's your sacrificial defensive lineman?