The Cowboys are riding high after a strong week of joint practices with the Chargers translated into a 32-18 preseason victory over them on Saturday. But while the team is enjoying a bounce back from their sloppy preseason debut, it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows; the Cowboys must trim their roster from 85 to 80 players by Tuesday.
Last week, they released wide receiver Ty Fryfogle, tight end Ian Bunting, fullback Ryan Nall, defensive tackle Austin Faoliu, and cornerback Kyron Brown. Most of them had likely seen the writing on the wall already, and that will probably be the case this week as well. Here are seven players that could be prime cut candidates ahead of Tuesday.
WR Jaquarii Roberson
Jaquarii Roberson was one of a handful of undrafted free agent receivers the team brought in, which has been common practice for them in previous years. Like Fryfogle, Roberson was once thought to be a real dark horse candidate to claim a final roster spot given the uncertainty in this wide receiver corps.
Since then, both Dennis Houston and KaVontae Turpin have emerged and done everything in their power to lock up some roster spots. That’s created an unfortunate numbers crunch at the position, which puts Roberson in a tough spot.
OT Amon Simon
Amon Simon was on this list last week too, but the Cowboys opted to keep him around. Surviving this next round of cuts may be more difficult, though. Josh Ball continues to struggle at left tackle, which meant another long day of work for him. Both Ball and Aviante Collins played on 83% of the offensive snaps Saturday night at the two tackle spots.
Simon came in for a mere nine snaps towards the end, hardly an endorsement of how the team views him. It’s possible that they’d keep Simon around just to have enough depth for the final preseason game, but we can probably expect another healthy helping of snaps for Ball and Collins in that one too.
iDL Josiah Bronson
Josiah Bronson didn’t get much run in the first preseason debut, leading to his placement on this list last week. However, he outlasted Faoliu and lived to play another preseason game.
That didn’t mean much for Bronson, though. He played more snaps than any other defensive tackle on the team Saturday, but that’s not a good thing in this context. Like Simon, Bronson may be kept around as depth for the next game, but he’s likely to be sweating this round of cuts.
LB Christian Sam
Christian Sam was the Cowboys’ second USFL signing this offseason, bringing him over in an effort to boost their linebacker depth for the preseason. That was before the Anthony Barr signing, though, and Sam now finds himself in an uncomfortable spot.
Sam didn’t play Saturday, and it wasn’t because he has a roster spot locked up. That was a harbinger of things to come for Fryfogle last week, and it’s likely more of the same for Sam.
CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart
Isaac Taylor-Stuart finds himself in an unfortunate numbers crunch situation, and he just watched Kyron Brown suffer the fallout of that last week. Perhaps the only opportunity for Taylor-Stuart was the growing impatience with Kelvin Joseph, but even that longshot was extinguished Saturday night with a better showing from the former second-round pick.
Taylor-Stuart has performed admirably through two preseason games, but he’s struggled to really separate himself from the rest of the pack. If the coaching staff really wants to get him on their practice squad, Taylor-Stuart might be spared for one more week, but that’s probably about it for his chances.
OL James Empey and Braylon Jones
We’re doubling up here because this is very possibly an either/or situation. James Empey and Braylon Jones have both been competing as backup interior linemen this summer, lining up at several spots on the line.
The Cowboys already know they’ll have reliable depth there, with the loser of the left guard battle offering nice value alongside Matt Farniok, who played every single offensive snap Saturday and seems to have completely locked up the backup center job. That creates a conundrum for these two, and it might be a conundrum the Cowboys are ready to solve this week.