‘Worst part of the job’: Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy talks the emotionally taxing nature of roster cuts - David Moore, DMN
The Cowboys head coach knows what he must do, but it doesn’t mean he likes it.
The Cowboys head coach was dreading what he would now face.
“These are the worst days,’’ McCarthy told reporters Sunday afternoon. “The next 48 hours is clearly the worst part of the job.’’
Roster cuts. The Cowboys and every other team in the NFL must reduce their roster to 53 players by Tuesday afternoon. Some of those decisions began to trickle out Monday night.
This isn’t a difficult exercise from the outside looking in. Defensive tackle Trysten Hill and rookie defensive end Chauncey Golston will go on injured reserve with a chance to return during the season and won’t count against that number. Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, rookie offensive tackle Josh Ball and tight end Sean McKeon will need to be placed on the initial 53 before being moved quickly to IR to open up spots for players who can help the team early.
McCarthy anticipates all four players on the COVID-19 list will be cleared to return to practice on Thursday, giving the club a few more hours of maneuverability.
Again, the mechanics of getting down to 53 isn’t difficult. But that doesn’t take into account the emotional toll.
There are a few positions that could use an infusion of talent on the Cowboys roster.
Which players should the Dallas Cowboys target?
There are still plenty of names on the free agency market that would make a solid addition to this team. More importantly, the Dallas Cowboys could probably use a veteran defensive tackle like Geno Atkins, Kawann Short, or Jurrell Casey.
All three players are at least 32 years old and would provide Dallas with a possible leader at that position. With the season starting shortly, the asking price for these players is likely not too high.
Furthermore, Atkins’ doctor is none other than Dallas Cowboys team doctor, Dan Cooper. Cooper is the one who cleared the former Cincinnati Bengals star for activities. The eight-time Pro Bowler has managed to stay relatively healthy throughout his career except for last season.
The 32-year-old defensive tackle would fit right in with the team. Players like defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and defensive tackle Trysten Hill are battling injuries to start the season, which could make room for Atkins.
Although Atkins is coming off a labrum tear in his right shoulder, Dallas doesn’t shy away from past injuries that players have suffered. Just this season, they have signed safety Malik Hooker, linebacker Keanu Neal and safety Damontae Kazee, all of whom have suffered major injuries in the past two years.
The worst day for a lot of players has come, so who makes the cut.
Sure, there will be plenty of rust to knock off, but he’s going to play and the team will respond to having their No. 1 quarterback out there with them again. As for who will be the primary backup, that’s where the real question comes in.
The favorite entering the preseason was Garrett Gilbert but he was up and down for many of their games. He might have won himself the No. 2 job after out-playing Cooper Rush in their finale.
As for Rush, ge’s been with this team for a while — spare for a cup of coffee with the Giants last season — and really stood out in their game against Houston. He also got a vote of confidence from Jerry Jones, which always helps a player in Big D. He makes the team in this prediction because he played well enough to earn a spot and Gilbert might not have done enough throughout the entire preseason to convince them to stick with just two signal-callers.
The missing name here is second-year player Ben DiNucci. Head coach Mike McCarthy has been giving him chances to make this team but his mistakes are too much to overlook. The good news is, they can probably add him to the practice squad because it’s unlikely he gets claimed.
This one will be tough, one might make it, or neither.
Wide receivers Malik Turner and Simi Fehoko are two of the Cowboys who don’t yet know where they’ll land. Both played well during camp, but both find themselves trying to break in to a position group already bursting with talent. Four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper is a lock, as are second-year phenom CeeDee Lamb and still-rising star Michael Gallup. Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown are proven Dallas veterans. There’s no guarantee the Cowboys will even take a sixth receiver into the season.
For players like Fehoko and Turner, Monday and Tuesday could prove to be the longest wait of their lives.
Fehoko is 23 years old, but it’s his first time with this unique brand of football uncertainty. A four-star recruit coming out of high school who went on to become one of the leading receivers in the history of Stanford’s storied program, the 6-foot-3-inch rookie has never experienced the possibility of not making a football team.
A fifth-round pick by the Cowboys in the spring, Fehoko finds himself on the proverbial bubble. So while the rest of the world viewed Sunday’s preseason finale against Jacksonville as a meaningless exhibition, for Fehoko, it was his last best chance to make an impression.
More on the 53-man roster predictions.
Tight Ends (3)
Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Jeremy Sprinkle
IR – Sean McKeon
McKeon’s injury changed things as he was expected to make the roster. He’s the first of our injured players who the team will carry for a day and then place on IR so that he can potentially return during the season.
The rest of this group is a no-brainer. Sprinkle might’ve lost his spot to a healthy McKeon but Dallas may have just kept four at that point, perhaps costing Nick Ralston the job I gave him at fullback. Sprinkle’s had a quiet preseason but he’s here to dirty work as a blocker and on special teams.
Offensive Tackles (4)
Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Ty Nsekhe
IR – Josh Ball
Dallas might’ve only kept their one swing tackle but La’el Collins’ exit from practice a few days ago was a reminder of how quickly things can still go sideways. After last year’s issues I think the Cowboys will keep at least two OT backups at all times.
For right now they will probably be Nsekhe and Steele. Once he’s recovered from his ankle injury, rookie Josh Ball might claim Steele’s spot and come off injured reserve.
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