IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys’ roster for Week 1 against San Francisco is bound to look different by the time the weekend is over. But for the time being, this is the team’s 53-man roster – a group that has several surprising additions and subtractions, particularly at quarterback.
Quarterback (3): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Dustin Vaughan – It’s been a topic of conversation all summer that Dustin Vaughan may have done enough to earn a job in Dallas, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see him make the final roster. With so many other needs, it says a lot about what the Cowboys think of the rookie to keep him on the 53-man squad.
Running Back (4): DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Tyler Clutts – The debate throughout training camp was whether the Cowboys would keep three running backs and a fullback, or four running backs. Clearly Clutts got the nod over Ryan Williams, who was one of the last players cut from the roster. Clutts’ abilities on special teams might have been the deciding factor.
Wide Receiver (5): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street – LaRon Byrd and Jamar Newsome made a late push to earn consideration on the final roster, but the numbers weren’t in their favor. It’s likely that one or both of them will get practice squad consideration if they clear waivers.
Tight End (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna – This time last year the Cowboys kept a whopping five tight ends as a sign of commitment to using “12,” or two-tight end personnel packages. There never seemed to be any doubt that only the trio of All-Pro Witten and recent draft picks Escobar and Hanna would make the cut this year.
Offensive Line (9): Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Jermey Parnell, Darrion Weems, Donald Hawkins – Maybe the biggest surprise here is the decision to part ways with veteran starter Uche Nwaneri. He never made a push for starting time, but it seemed likely the Dallas native would provide reliable depth. John Wetzel, a practice squad player in 2013, did enough to earn an initial spot on the 53-man roster, but he was cut when the Cowboys got Hawkins off waivers.
Defensive Line (11): Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Lawrence, Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain, Davon Coleman, Ken Bishop, Lavar Edwards – A deadline day trade brings Edwards, an LSU product, to the team from the Tennessee Titans. The Cowboys gave up an undisclosed 2015 draft pick for the defensive end. That should give the Cowboys some breathing room, as the trade gives Dallas four defensive ends on the roster while they wait for Spencer to get healthy. DeMarcus Lawrence will likely be moved to injured reserve later this week, but must be on the active roster at the deadline.
Linebacker (6): Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Rolando McClain, Kyle Wilber, Anthony Hitchens, Cameron Lawrence – The Cowboys opted to release seventh-round pick Will Smith, who was hampered by a groin injury for the early going of training camp. It looks likely that the top five in this group are going to see extended playing time, regardless of who the starters are. Cameron Lawrence is a core special teamer.
Defensive Back (9): Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, Tyler Patmon, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon, Jemea Thomas –The suspensions of Orlando Scandrick and Jakar Hamilton have the position looking a bit different from what many initially thought. Jemea Thomas, the recently-signed Patriots castoff, can play both cornerback and safety – which helps offset the need for a 10th defensive back. For all the talk about him during camp, Terrance Mitchell’s problems with holding look likely to have doomed his roster chances. It will be interesting to see where the roster cut comes when Scandrick returns to the roster in Week 5.
Specialists (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladoucer – No surprises here, at least