With each new preseason game, we will examine the landscape of the Cowboys 53-man roster as we attempt to guess how things will turn out. Some players are solidifying their spots on the team while others are slipping. Where do your pet cats fit in all this?
Let’s get started, shall we?
Everyone listed in blue are starters or key rotational players. Those listed in silver are also sitting in good shape to make the roster, but don’t have a starting spot locked down. They are either in the middle of a position battle or are a key reserve that will receive a good share of snaps this season.
OFFENSE: 20 spots occupied
Added - Alfred Morris and Rico Gathers
The suspension of Ezekiel Elliott has increased the demand for Morris. While McFadden is currently slated at the team’s number two running back, both he and Morris have been featured backs before and there should be a healthy competition for the starting gig in Zeke’s absence.
If you had Gathers penciled in as a lock already, then you were ahead of me. I had him making the roster on last week’s predictions, but he was on the fringe. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about his place on the team now after another great showing against the Los Angeles Rams.
Removed - Kellen Moore
This may not be where the Cowboys are at, but I no longer believe Moore is just an automatic to make the team. If the team only keeps two quarterbacks, then he should find himself in the middle of a dogfight for that #2 spot with rookie, Cooper Rush. If they keep three, Moore is safe.
DEFENSE: 24 spots occupied
The same amount of spots are still allocated for defense, but a couple players have swapped spots.
Added - Damontre Moore
Moore was a good signing as he’s had two solid preseason games. He’s making plays in the backfield and is good enough to have some type of role on this team. It’s a shame he’s suspended to start the season because the defense could certainly use him.
Removed - Justin Durant
Health has become an obstacle for the Cowboys veteran linebacker. While he has proven effective when on the field, he’s got to get out there and practice to secure a spot on the roster.
SPECIAL TEAMS: 3 spots occupied
No changes. Nor will there be. All three of these guys are awesome.
That leaves six open spots on the roster. There are many good choices to choose from to round out the roster, but some of these decisions will be based on position need.
When Mark Nzeocha’s is healthy, he has the talent to fill out the depth of the Cowboys linebacker group. He’s healthy now and he’s stringing together some decent plays and is a key member on special teams.
Kellen Moore’s mom loves him, but that’s about it right now. Oh, and also Scott Linehan. You can’t look past how disappointed fans are with the team’s #2 quarterback. Is his job in jeopardy? Will Rush jump him on the depth chart? Still many questions left to be answered and hopefully these next few weeks will reveal them. But at this moment, the coaches see something in him so I feel there is an obligation to include him...for now.
The Cowboys signed Justin Durant to give them some insurance, but he hasn’t been able to help them yet. Durant hasn’t had any offseason work with any team so he’s been spending time with the trainers to get his body conditioned to start doing football activities. He’s just been activated off the Non-Football Injury list and will now begin practicing on a limited basis.
Everyone loves Rod Smith. His special teams play and solid performance at running back has him in good favor with a lot of fans. He’ll likely make the squad, but he’s always lingering at the bottom. He’s no stranger to being used as a roster-room cut when a player from another position gets hurt that requires a pick up. He might be safe for now, but for how long?
Joe Looney is not good, but by comparison - he’s still one of the better depth guys on the offensive line. Of course, that’s still not saying much. Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper are the only lineman that are playing well enough to deserve a roster spot, but unfortunately health has always been an issue for them. That’s where Looney comes in. He’s like Mackenzey Bernadeau - nobody is excited about seeing him out there, but it could be worse.
Cooper Rush joins the conversation as a potential candidate to make the official 53-man roster. He’s been the team’s best quarterback so far in preseason and it’s not even close. These next few weeks should be telling, but if I had to decide right now, he’s making the team.
On the Bubble
Competition is stiff for these last spots so there are a handful of names listed next that can still make the roster. Many of these are good candidates for the practice squad.
Noah Brown had a good game against the Rams, outplaying his WR competition, Andy Jones. He’s a physical receiver and showed nice ability to run after the catch. If he continues to play well, it’s going to make things really difficult for the team to make their final cuts. The team would love to keep him around and develop him for the future, but can they really afford to keep six wide receivers?
Duke Thomas is a new name to make this list someone to keep an eye during these last three preseason games. There always seems to be some unknown CB that sneaks on the roster and after his performance against the Rams, he’s my wild card pick to make the squad.
Lenny Jones had a great game on Saturday. He was very disruptive and made several splash plays. He also played against reserves down the depth chart. The team is a little lean at DE entering the season due to suspensions so it wouldn’t be shocking if Jones made the team temporarily until the regulars returned.
The Cowboys only have three defensive tackles locked in with a rosters spot (Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea, and Cedric Thornton). If they go with a fourth, Lewis Neal could be their best choice.
Joseph Jones played well in the first game against the Arizona Cardinals, but was relatively quiet against the Rams. Nzeocha stands in his way and barring an injuring or sudden fallout in his performance, it’s going to be hard to jump him.
Kadeem Edwards got ran over at guard on Saturday. That little experiment doesn’t seem to be working. Nobody is stepping up on the offensive line, but that includes Edwards.
Joey Ivie had a couple good plays against the Rams. It’s not inconceivable that he makes the roster, but he’s still practice squad material right now.
Marquez White didn’t play on Saturday. He’s battling an injury, depth safeties, and now fellow cornerback Duke Thomas for a final roster spot.
The Cowboys recent struggle at guard could result in a musical chair tryout and Nate Theaker’s name shouldn’t be forgotten about. He’s likely a practice squad guy, but there’s a big help wanted sign out there when it comes to the Cowboys OL and Theaker is an applicant.
Jordan Carrell hasn’t done much to warrant keeping him on the roster. His best shot is the practice squad.
Some of these names wouldn’t be surprising, but some would. These guys haven’t done much to help their cause so far.
I was a Luke McCown fan before Saturday, but that was just me taking door number three to avoid the zonk that is Kellen Moore. For those who said he was just a camp arm, I’m with you now.
I can’t get past how bad Byron Bell looks. The only time he’s remotely effective is when the defender rushes straight at him. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen and Bell is left blocking air a lot of times. He doesn’t have the balance to handle movement and he’s always seen just standing around while others are finishing the play.
Andy Jones has two things working against. First, Noah Brown is starting to impress. And second, the Cowboys aren’t likely to keep six WRs.
There isn’t much to say about Robert Blanton. He looks okay on film, but the youngsters, Kavon Fraizer and Xavier Woods, look much better.
Emmett Cleary was my pick to be the team’s swing tackle once Chaz Green made the switch to guard. Now, I’m terrified of such a thing. If you put all of Doug Free’s bad plays in a bottle, shook it up, and sprayed it everywhere - you’d get Cleary’s performance in the preseason. Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but all he does is help guide the pass rusher to the quarterback.
Jameill Showers is currently playing safety for the Cowboys. Pretty soon, he won’t be.
When I was trying to guess the mysterious CB that could sneak on the roster, Sammy Seamster was a guy I was watching closely. There weren’t too many plays where the Cowboys corners got beat against the Rams, but Seamster had one of them. If a dark horse cornerback makes the team, I’m rolling with Duke.
There are some people that think the Cowboys could keep a plethora of running backs to keep the depth stacked while Zeke is gone. That could include hanging on to Ronnie Hillman. What value is that? Roster spots are too precious and his services are not needed.
Do you agree with these predictions? Which players do you think make the roster that I have left off? And who’s spot do they take?