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Breaking Down The Roster, Position By Position


FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys' roster is never completely final, as a flurry of moves over the weekend proved. As the team enters Week 1 of the season, though, here's a breakdown of the 53 right now:

Quarterback (3)

  • Dak Prescott
  • Andy Dalton
  • Ben DiNucci

Breakdown: The Cowboys are set to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster for the first time since 2018. DiNucci, this year's seventh-round pick, didn't get a lot of reps in training camp but the club likes his arm strength and mobility as a developmental prospect. Dalton will be the primary backup to Prescott, as expected. No backup quarterback in the league can match Dalton's 133 career starts.

Running Back (3)

  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Tony Pollard
  • Rico Dowdle

Breakdown: It's no secret that Elliott and Pollard are expected to get the bulk of the work here, but Dowdle, undrafted out of South Carolina, showed enough burst and production in practice to make the team without any preseason games. The Cowboys had an extra running back spot after fullback Jamize Olawale opted out of the season.

Wide Receiver (6)

  • Amari Cooper
  • Michael Gallup
  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Cedrick Wilson
  • Noah Brown
  • Malik Turner
    (*Ventell Bryant – IR)

Breakdown: The only question here was how many receivers made the team after the Cooper-Gallup-Lamb trio. Wilson and Brown separated themselves from the other wideouts in practice. Perhaps most importantly, both are proven special teams contributors. So is Turner, who arrived Sunday off waivers from the Packers. He played 170 special teams snaps for Seattle last season.

Tight End (4)

  • Blake Jarwin
  • Dalton Schultz
  • Blake Bell
  • Sean McKeon

Breakdown: Jarwin had a strong camp as the expected replacement for Jason Witten in the starting lineup. Schultz and Bell are well-rounded tight ends for the rotation, with Schultz possibly picking up some of Olawale's fullback duties. McKeon was one of three undrafted rookies to make the team.

Offensive Line (9)

  • Tyron Smith
  • Connor Williams
  • Joe Looney
  • Zack Martin
  • Cameron Erving
  • Connor McGovern
  • Brandon Knight
  • Tyler Biadasz
  • Terence Steele
    (*La'el Collins – IR)

Breakdown: The line's depth will get tested early in the season with Collins on Reserve/Injured for at least three games, according the league's adjusted IR rules. Cameron Erving is the likely fill-in starter at right tackle. Steele, an undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech, made the team for extra depth at tackle. It's still a talented, experienced group led by Smith, Martin and Looney, who's replacing the retired Travis Frederick at center.

Defensive Line (10)

  • DeMarcus Lawrence
  • Tyrone Crawford
  • Dontari Poe
  • Aldon Smith
  • Everson Griffen
  • Trysten Hill
  • Antwaun Woods
  • Neville Gallimore
  • Dorance Armstrong
  • Bradlee Anae

Breakdown: There's a lot of versatility up front for a defense that wants to be more multiple this season. Smith and Griffen could be significant additions to a pass rush that already features two-time Pro Bowler Lawrence and the returning Crawford. Poe was signed to boost the line's interior, and Hill, last year's second-round pick, should have an increased role following Gerald McCoy's season-ending quad injury in camp. Randy Gregory is going through six-week acclimation period, according to the terms of his conditional reinstatement, and does not count toward the 53 right now. He can begin practicing Oct. 5 and return to game action after Week 6.

Linebacker (5)

  • Jaylon Smith
  • Leighton Vander Esch
  • Joe Thomas
  • Justin March
  • Luke Gifford
    (*Sean Lee – IR)

Breakdown: There's been some roster shuffling here the last two days. Thomas and March were released and signed back with Lee going to Reserve/Injured for a three-week minimum. Thomas offers important depth behind starters Smith and Vander Esch. He's a former starter in Green Bay who can play multiple spots. March has been a core special teams contributor the last few years.

Defensive Backs (10)

  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Anthony Brown
  • Jourdan Lewis
  • Trevon Diggs
  • Daryl Worley
  • Xavier Woods
  • Darian Thompson
  • C.J. Goodwin
  • Donovan Wilson
  • Reggie Robinson II

Breakdown: The club likes the overall depth in the secondary but acknowledged last week they'd be looking for veteran safety help after releasing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Brandon Carr, a 12-year veteran signed to the practice squad, could help at safety or corner if promoted at some point. The Cowboys are hopeful that Awuzie, Lewis and Woods are making progress after missing practice time with injuries. They weren't placed on the three-week IR list, so that's a good sign. It'll be interesting to see Diggs' role to start the season after the second-round pick's strong finish to camp.

Specialists (3)

  • Greg Zuerlein
  • Chris Jones
  • L.P. Ladouceur

Breakdown: Zuerlein had only one miss the entire camp, from 60 yards, and he made another other attempt from that distance. A groin injury affected his productivity last year with the Rams, but new special teams coordinator John Fassel has confidence in the veteran. The rest of the kicking operation remains intact with Jones and Ladouceur back for 2020.

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