Summary: After three straight seasons of keeping just two quarterbacks on the roster to open the season, the Cowboys are going with three, thanks to the addition of rookie Stephen McGee. However, the fourth-round pick from Texas A&M might not be available for a few weeks because of a sprained MCL. Because of that, the Cowboys might have to keep Rudy Carpenter, who played about three quarters against Minnesota, on the practice squad to run the scout team for a few weeks, if not longer. Overall, the Cowboys feel more confident in their backup for Romo. While Kitna is an experienced veteran, he figures to give the Cowboys a more competitive chance than Brad Johnson did a year ago, should he be called upon.
Running Back (4)
Summary: No surprises here, and no changes from last year. The difference is experience and expectations. Entering their second seasons, Jones and Choice both had success in limited opportunities last year. Jones' rookie season started off electric but ended with injury. So far, he looks as dynamic as we all remember. But don't forget about Barber, the true workhorse of the offense. If all three backs stay healthy, it could be a formidable backfield trio. Anderson has missed a month after undergoing knee surgery back in camp. He hasn't returned to practice yet but obviously the Cowboys felt comfortable with his progress to let go of Crosslin, who had to play the entire second half as the tailback because of an injury to Keon Lattimore. The Cowboys would probably like to get Crosslin back to the practice squad if possible.
Wide Receiver (5)
Summary: The surprise of the group - only if you haven't been watching training camp or the preseason - is Ogletree, the only undrafted rookie to make the roster. Regardless of the receiver numbers or his competition, Ogletree simply made too many plays not to keep him. In fact, Jerry Jones said Friday night that Ogletree is the type of young player the Cowboys could even build around. The only other surprise is that the Cowboys decided to end their experiment with
Stanback, who had trouble staying healthy and, consequently, making the transition from college quarterback to NFL receiver.
Tight End (3)
Summary: This position played out as expected. Witten looks ready for another All-Pro season, while Bennett has emerged as a potential star. The Cowboys will use a lot of two-tight end sets, but look for Phillips to have a role as well. He has surprised the Cowboys with his athleticism, but he's a solid blocker as well. What a situation for Phillips, who has two different but talented tight ends from whom to learn.
Offensive Line (10)
Summary: All of the uncertainties seem to surround the backup positions. That's not exactly a comforting situation, but at least the starters are back. And that includes Kyle Kosier at left guard, who hasn't shown any lingering effects from the foot injury that kept him out of 13 games last year. The Cowboys kept 10 lineman, including backups Cory Procter, Montrae Holland and newly-acquired lineman Duke Preston. This position may not stand like this when the season starts, but for now, the Cowboys are going with 10.
Defensive Line (6)
Summary: Unless the Cowboys make a change over the weekend, which is always possible, it appears the club is prepared to give Siavii his first chance to play since 2006. He is expected to back up Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff in the middle. Other than that, the Cowboys have some experienced depth at end with Bowen and Hatcher providing a deep rotation. Olshansky has looked to be a solid replacement for the departed Chris Canty. The Cowboys obviously had high hopes for Marcus Dixon, whose groin injury two weeks ago stunted his chances of making the team. Getting him back on the practice squad seems to be a high priority.
Summary: The bad part about this position is the injuries that occurred over the course of camp. The good thing is that most of it was towards the end of the depth chart. The Cowboys' four starters have been set and Carpenter is expected to be the nickel linebacker. After that it's been shaky, thanks to rookies Brandon Williams and Stephen Hodge both going to IR, and Jason Williams out another 3-5 weeks with a high ankle sprain. It gave Octavien a chance and forced the Cowboys to claim Curtis Johnson (waived by the Colts) last week.
Summary: The big news here centers on the recent decision to rotate both Jenkins and Scandrick as starters at right cornerback. This should be the first time in three years that Newman will enter the regular season healthy. He's looked sharp in the preseason, especially as a spot-duty punt returner. Ball missed the last game after having a concussion in the third preseason game, but should be ready for Tampa. Jerry Jones mentioned Ball's versatility to play safety as a key attribute to his value. The Cowboys took a strong look at Mike Mickens, but opted to part ways at this time.
Summary: The Cowboys filled their 53-man roster on Sunday by adding White, who was released Saturday by the Bengals. His two years of experience
and special teams ability should be an immediate upgrade over DeAngelo Smith, who was released on Saturday. Watkins had likely already earned a roster spot before the Minnesota game, but he erased any other doubts with a stellar performance in the preseason finale. He'll be the third safety behind starters Ken Hamlin and Sensabaugh. Mike Hamlin is out probably another month with a broken wrist.
K Nick Folk
K David Buehler
P Mat McBriar
LS L.P. Ladouceur
Summary: The only change is the addition of Buehler, who figures to be the kickoff specialist. While the Cowboys are hoping he helps provide better field position, there may be some weeks the Cowboys can't afford to keep two kickers active for the game. Since he only attempted one field goal, it's likely the Cowboys would go with Folk to handle both duties if keeping them both active on the 45-man game day roster isn't an option. McBriar looks healthy again after last year's broken foot and Ladouceur has been rock-solid for about five years now.
Here is a complete list of the Cowboys' roster moves to reach the 53-man limit:
Travis Bright (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Rudy Carpenter (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Scott Chandler (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Julius Crosslin (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Marcus Dixon (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Jesse Holley (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Manuel Johnson (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Mike Mickens (signed to practice squad on Sunday)
Keon Lattimore (waived/injured)