With two preseason games in the books, things are becoming more and more clear when it comes to the makeup of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 roster. There are still a handful of battles still going on and it could come down to what happens in the team’s final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. Let’s run down each position group and determine which roster battles still remain.
QUARTERBACK - Will Grier vs. himself
No change. Cooper Rush is the team’s backup quarterback and Will Grier is still trying to prove he’s worth stashing on the roster in case of an emergency. Even with the new rule, it still might be hard for Grier to find his way on this team.
RUNNING BACK - Rico Dowdle vs. Malik Davis
Well, what do you know, Rico Dowdle is healthy and finally showing us why the coaching staff has been enamored with him from the get-go. As long as he can avoid injury, he looks the part of the team’s number two back who shares the workload with Tony Pollard. Malik Davis is now on the bubble and could still make the squad, but a trip to the practice squad looks more likely.
TIGHT END - Peyton Hendershot vs. Sean McKeon
We have been singing the praises of UDFA John Stephens Jr. and how he was on track to earn a roster spot, and Stephen Jones recently said that he had pretty much secured a spot on the team. It’s unfortunate that he suffered a season-ending injury, so the excitement will have to wait for now. Prior to the injury, the attention shifted between Hendershot and McKeon as the tight ends who were on the cusp of making the team. Now, both appear safe unless the team decides to only go with three tight ends in which case the battle continues.
WIDE RECEIVER - Jalen Brooks vs. everyone else
The team’s seventh-round draft pick has impressed in camp but struggled in the first preseason game after hurting his ankle. He looked better on Saturday and still appears to have the inside track on the last wide receiver spot. Other candidates still in the mix are Simi Fehoko and Dennis Houston, but they are slowly fading from the pack.
OFFENSIVE LINE - Brock Hoffman vs. T.J. Bass
Josh Ball has been a name that some thought could be passed over this year, but nothing we’ve seen over the last couple of months would suggest that’s going to happen. Rookie Asim Richards put together another solid outing. Matt Waletzko has struggled a bit and hurt his shoulder in the Seahawks game, although he’s fine. Matt Farniok has been shaky but remains the team’s best backup center option. All these guys are sitting in good shape to make the team. The only questions that remain are (1) How is Chuma Edoga doing health-wise and (2) Can T.J. Bass jump Brock Hoffman for the final roster spot? The Bass hype is starting to pick up steam and this one could be close.
DEFENSIVE LINE - Land of opportunity
The Cowboys have nine players locked down already. They are Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Osa Odighizuwa, Mazi Smith, Sam Williams, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler, Johnathan Hankins, and Junior Fehoko. That doesn’t leave much room for others. Chauncey Golston looks to be the frontrunner for the last spot, but Neville Gallimore is still putting up a fight. Quinton Bohanna has an outside shot should they opt to keep three nose tackles on the roster. And don’t forget about UDFA rookie Isaiah Land who continues to impress as an edge rusher. Land is probably going to be one of the team’s top practice squad signings, but don’t count him out as a potential surprise roster choice.
LINEBACKER - Malik Jefferson vs. an extra safety?
The linebacker group was thrown a curveball when the team lost rookie third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown for the season with a knee injury. Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark remain a solid starting duo, but depth is now an issue with Overshown out. Second-year player Devin Harper has looked good and could be in line for a larger role this year. Jabril Cox has been okay and adds depth. Now the question begs, does Malik Jefferson have an outside chance to make the team? Jefferson injured his foot in the preseason opener against the Jaguars and McCarthy said he would be hard-pressed to make it back. The team also has an abundance of safeties who can play in the box, so they could go a bunch of different ways here.
CORNERBACK - New life for a couple of potential roster cuts
Kelvin Joseph continues to play well and is moving closer to locking down a roster spot. Nahshon Wright has been out with an ankle sprain and that could end up being a death sentence in terms of making the team. Rookie Eric Scott Jr. has had his moments of struggles and while we might want to adjust our expectations for him this season, the team is very likely to hang on to him as he develops. Jourdan Lewis, who has been out as he recovers from a right foot injury, could end up being the big winner here because the lack of depth at the bottom increases his value. Lewis was a guy who could be a possible cap casualty, but without adequate replacements in place, that might not be the way to go.
SAFETY - Lots of good choices here
The Cowboys are stacked at safety. Not only do they have the big three in Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, and Donovan Wilson, but they also have the “other” three in Israel Mukuamu, Markquese Bell, and Juanyeh Thomas. Of course, they can’t keep them all so all eyes will fall on Thomas as he tries to close the gap on Bell. That could be a tall task as Bell continues to do well both in camp and in preseason action.
Here is an overview of the depth at each position with confidence levels of making the roster listed for each player.