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A Closer Look At The 53-Man Roster: Position By Position Breakdown

IRVING, Texas – Hesitate before you call this the Cowboys' "final" 53-man roster – as Sunday and Monday have showed, Saturday's cuts are rarely their final moves at the end of preseason. The club acquired running back Christine Michael for an undisclosed 2016 draft pick Sunday, and on Monday claimed offensive tackle Jordan Mills and waived linebacker Jasper Brinkley.

For now, here is the Cowboys' roster as they approach Week One of the regular season:

Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden – The Cowboys go back to the two-quarterback route they took in 2012 and 2013 when Kyle Orton served as Romo's sole backup. Weeden enters his second season behind Romo, though he didn't get as many camp reps with Romo healthier and another year removed from back surgery. Dustin Vaughan apparently didn't produce enough in preseason to earn another year as the third guy on the active roster.

Running Back (5): Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Christine Michael, Tyler Clutts (fullback) – The most talked-about position in training camp and preseason just got another candidate for carries. Michael, a second-round pick of the Seahawks in 2013, faces a crowded depth chart but has talent to enter the mix at some point, if not Week One. At 220 pounds, he's a bigger back who could help replace some of the short-yardage production Murray provided. Randle and McFadden still figure to get the first crack at carries on opening night with Dunbar sprinkling in touches. Clutts will resume his role as fullback and core special-teamer.

Wide Receiver (5): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Devin Street, Lucky Whitehead – One of two undrafted rookies to make the team, Whitehead could have an early role on offense depending on Street's availability due to the ankle injury that sidelined him intermittently throughout preseason. Bryant (hamstring) should be ready to roll against the Giants, and Williams and Beasley had strong camps. Whitehead and Beasley are also the prime candidates for punt returns.

Tight End (4): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim – The Cowboys went heavy here considering they also kept Clutts as a backfield blocker. The club liked how Swaim, their final pick in the draft, progressed while Hanna missed most of preseason with a sprained knee. Hanna's getting healthy, but Swaim provides some early-season insurance behind Witten and Escobar.

Offensive Line (9): Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, La'el Collins, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Darrion Weems, Jordan Mills – The dominant starting five returns (Smith, Leary, Frederick, Martin, Free) with Bernadeau backing up at center and guard. Collins, the highly-touted undrafted rookie, also provides guard depth. Weems was the only backup tackle on the initial 53-man roster, but Mills adds competition with 29 starts in two seasons with the Bears.

Defensive Line (10): DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden, Jeremy Mincey, Randy Gregory, Jack Crawford, Terrell McClain, Davon Coleman, Ken Bishop, Ryan Russell – The Cowboys waived Lavar Edwards on Sunday to make room for Christine Michael, which reduced their defensive line number from 11 to 10. The Cowboys are likely to carry fewer than 10 linemen on game days, but going heavy on the 53 is indicative of their depth at this spot. When Greg Hardy comes off the Reserve/Suspended list on Oct. 5, they'll be even deeper, but while he's sidelined Randy Gregory and Jeremy Mincey should hold down the right end position. McClain, Coleman and Russell offer position flexibility as projected backups in the rotation.

Linebacker (6): Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Kyle Wilber, Andrew Gachkar, Damien Wilson, Keith Smith – To make room for Mills, the Cowboys waived Brinkley, who signed a two-year deal in the spring with $2 million guaranteed. The team likely valued the special teams ability of Smith, who rejoined the roster in camp following a tryout and made the team with a strong preseason. Gachkar and Wilber did a nice job of adapting to multiple positions in camp, and Wilson showed promise as the team's fourth-round pick. It remains to be seen who joins Lee and Hitchens as the third starter in the base defense. Rolando McClain, last year's starter at middle linebacker, comes off the Reserve/Suspended list on Oct. 5.

Defensive Back (9): Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Tyler Patmon, Byron Jones, Corey White, Jeff Heath, Danny McCray – The Cowboys went a little heavy in the secondary, too, with Heath and McCray providing value on special teams. White and Jones, the team's first-round pick, offer position flex at cornerback and safety. Carr, Claiborne, Church and Wilcox are the projected starters, with Patmon replacing Orlando Scandrick (knee; injured reserve) in the slot.

Specialist (3):Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur – The trio's back together for the fourth straight season.

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