Every year there are guys at the bottom of the roster who are battling for their NFL lives. With the Cowboys preparing to begin training camp, there will be battles once again for the players trying to hang on. Here are three guys who have shown something in the past that many might not be thinking about when constructing the Cowboys 2020 regular season roster. But don’t sleep on them, each one has attributes that might keep them around.
The love for Knight is a carryover from last season as he was my choice as a super sneaky dark horse prior to training camp last year. This is what we had to say about him right before roster cuts last season.
An injury has slowed him down, but there’s still a lot to like about Knight. One of those things is his nastiness, but the big draw that could punch his ticket on the roster may be his position flex to swing outside to tackle. The team has plenty of depth on the offensive line, but most of it’s on the inside. Keeping Knight in their back pocket could give them a little help on the outside, as well as a potential swing tackle for the future.
Sure enough, the undrafted free agent from Indiana ended up making the roster. The plan may have been to just keep him on the shelf until he develops his game further because they already had Cameron Fleming holding down the swing tackle job. Unfortunately, injuries to both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins called Knight into action. The rookie played a total of 110 snaps last year, with 82 of them coming in his lone start against the New York Jets. While that game was laced with offensive ineptitude, Knight was serviceable. Dak Prescott was only sacked once, and the offense had plenty of chances in that game.
The Cowboys didn’t pick up Fleming’s option for the 2020 season, so the swing tackle job is up for grabs. They did sign Cameron Erving to give more depth, so there should be a nice battle in camp. And while the money may suggest Erving is their guy, don’t sleep on the youngster.
There are a lot of similarities between Redmond and Knight that keep these guys on my radar. They are both UDFA’s who offer the team a little versatility along the offensive line. For Knight, it was the ability to play both inside and outside, but for Redmond - his center flex is a nice little trait. The team has veteran Joe Looney as their potential starter, and rookie Tyler Biadasz as a potential starter in the future, but Redmond has demonstrated a level of play that gives the team a safe floor for depth.
While he didn’t see action last season as a back injury landed him on injured reserve, he saw plenty of snaps in 2018 when the team had all sorts of injuries to their interior offensive line. He played in 10 games that year, saw offensive snaps in four of them, including the lone missed start of Zack Martin’s career.
But the one similarity with Knight that stands out the most is that both these guys really showed the coaching staff something last year to where they both made the 53-man roster, even though it meant the team keeping 11 offensive linemen. Granted, there is a new offensive line coach now, but Joe Philbin knows how to max out his talent. He’s not going to toss these guys aside if they are producing in camp. Biadasz and Connor McGovern may be guys for the future, but the team will make sure they have proper reinforcements available. With new roster rules that allow teams to keep 48 players active (instead of just 46) as long at eight of them are offensive linemen, this affords teams the luxury of capitalizing on their depth, and that could be enough to keep a player like Redmond on the roster.
This one is a little weird because most fans also like Gifford as his popularity began to rise when he was showing out in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers last season. Of course, that excitement was short-lived after he suffered a high ankle sprain that would sideline him for several weeks. He showed enough for the team to save him a roster spot, and he was back in action again by Week 6. Gifford was used on special teams, and was hit with another injury later in the season when he fractured his forearm.
There are still some who are intrigued by Gifford, but the injury history is a little concerning. Not only that, but the team has a new UDFA linebacker in Francis Bernard that fans are curious about. People love new things. While Bernard is the new toy, don’t sleep on Gifford holding down one of those final linebacker spots on the roster.