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Projecting the Cowboys’ game day roster for Giants game in Week 1

We know who made the 53-man roster, but now it’s time to predict who the Cowboys will suit up for Week 1 versus the Giants.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Earlier this week, all eyes were on roster cuts and practice squad signings as the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL worked through Tuesday’s deadline and other business. Now we move into regular season mode, and with that comes a shift in focus from the official roster to the 46-man game day roster; who will actually suit up and play when the Cowboys visit the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football?

Every week, each team designates 46 players who will be active for that game. These are mostly players from the 53 but can include up to two practice squad guys who get called up that week for duty. Teams have to manage that provision delicately, only being able to call up the same player three times throughout the season.

Also a factor in 2023 is the emergency quarterback rule which essentially creates a 47th player who could enter the game. For the Cowboys, this will certainly be the newly acquired Trey Lance. He can only play if both Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush are injured, and must exit the game if either of them are cleared to return.

Taking all of this into account, who do we expect to be in uniform in the season opener in New York? We know that three of them will be your specialists: K Brandon Aubrey, P Bryan Anger, and LS Trent Sieg. That leaves 43 more spots for the active roster.

Offense (21)

  • QB: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
  • RB: Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn
  • WR: CeeDee Lamb, Jalent Tolbert
  • WR: Brandin Cooks, KaVontae Turpin
  • WR: Michael Gallup
  • TE: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot
  • T: Tyron Smith, Terence Steele, Asim Richards
  • G: Zack Martin, Tyler Smith, T.J. Bass
  • C: Tyler Biadasz, Brock Hoffman (PS)

INACTIVE: QB Trey Lance, FB Hunter Luepke, WR Jalen Brooks, OL Chuma Edoga

The offensive players are pretty obvious until you get down to the last few spots. Many are probably unhappy not to see Hunter Luepke on this list, but the rookie fullback is going to be one of those bubble guys whose activity depends on health and schematic plans from week to week. Given some of the injuries Dallas is working through on the offensive line and defense, he probably has to sit this one out.

WR Jalen Brooks feels like one of the guys that the Cowboys kept on the 53 because they didn’t want to risk losing him on waivers. But having no known special teams role, Brooks will likely spend most of the year in street clothes unless an injury opens the door to playing time.

OL Chuma Edgoa has been out for three weeks with a hyperextended knee. He could be active for Week 1 at swing tackle in place of Richards, but Dallas may give him a little more time to get right. Their flexibility with some of the starters like Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Tyler Smith in cases of emergency allows for it.

We have one practice squad guy here in Brock Hoffman, who has been the backup center throughout most of August. The Cowboys did just add Sean Harlow to their practice squad, a seventh-year veteran with actual NFL playing time to his name. He could get elevated over Hoffman based on that experience but may need a little more time in the system given the nuances of playing center.

Defense (22)

  • DE: DeMarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams
  • DT: Osa Odighizuwa, Neville Gallimore
  • DT: Mazi Smith, Johnathan Hankins
  • DE: Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler
  • LB: Micah Parsons, Devin Harper
  • LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark
  • CB: Trevon Diggs, C.J. Goodwin (PS)
  • CB: Stephon Gilmore
  • CB: DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis
  • S: Malik Hooker, Israel Mukuamu
  • S: Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson, Markquese Bell

INACTIVE: DE Chauncey Golston. DE Viliami Fehoko, CB Eric Scott, CB Noah Igbinoghene, S Juanyeh Thomas

The choice between activating Gallimore or Golston here was tough, but you already have four defensive ends plus Micah Parsons’ frequent pass rushing. Golston’s versatility to play inside or out is nice, but we’re still in Mazi Smith’s infancy and Dallas may want another true DT able to take more reps early in the season.

Versatility is the keyword among the defensive backs. It’s what gets Israel Mukuamu in uniform here, able to play corner or safety. It’s also why Markquese Bell will be playing given his hybrid role between safety and linebacker.

The big question right now is whether or not Donovan Wilson is able to return from a calf strain for the season opener. We’re still 10 days away and hoping for the best, but don’t be surprised if he sits out and one of the other defensive backs like Igbinoghene, Scott, or Thomas gets to play instead.

Lastly, C.J. Goodwin isn’t on the practice squad for nothing. The veteran special teamer will get called up for a few weeks and then probably added to the official roster by Week 4 at the latest. Injuries could open up the spot to sign him, or Dallas may be more comfortable moving one of their young prospects to the practice squad at that point.

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