IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys won't be turning in their final cuts to the NFL until 8 p.m. (CDT) Friday. But considering this is already a game-week and the team needs to formulate their practice squad and prepare for the defending-champion Giants before Saturday's first practice, it's all but certain these decisions have already been made.
In fact, certain players have already been tweeting on their personal accounts that they're no longer with the team, and other reports have come out announcing certain cuts, according to sources.
Through both avenues, it appears the Cowboys have informed the following players they will be released: QB Rudy Carpenter, DE Clifton Geathers, FB Shaun Chapas, OLB Adrian Hamilton, WR Danny Coale, OL Pat McQuistan, OL Ronald Leary, OL Harland Gunn, DE Ben Bass and WR Saalim Hakim.
The Cowboys have to cut 22 players by Friday night and then will hope to re-sign eight to the practice by the start of Saturday's 11 a.m. practice.
Here is a projected 53-man roster by the staff writers of DallasCowboys.com.
Analysis: It won't be an easy decision for the Cowboys to part ways with Stephen McGee, but injury concerns at other positions won't allow this team to go long at quarterback. Keeping three is a luxury they can't afford and Orton's presence should be considered a progress-stopper for McGee. The Cowboys might be able to trade McGee for a late-round pick. Rudy Carpenter has a shot to make the practice squad.* *
Lawrence Vickers (FB)
Analysis: This is certainty a position of length right now and might not stay this way. But the Cowboys obviously like these two North Texas rookies in Dunbar and Olawale. Tanner has been pretty good as well and with Felix Jones entering the last year of his contract, it makes sense to hold onto some of these young backs. Next year, they'll still be young but with more experience.
Analysis: The surprise cut here is Danny Coale, a fifth-round pick. History shows that most draft picks released will get claimed off waivers, but the Cowboys would certainly like to keep him on the practice squad. Coale missed a lot of the offseason with a broken foot and hasn't been able to get himself to the same level as Beasley, Harris and Holmes. Don't ever rule out the Cowboys adding another receiver through waivers or a trade.
Analysis: No real surprises here, but Witten's injury could alter things for at least a week. The Cowboys will be looking at available tight ends, especially ones who can help in the blocking aspect. If Witten doesn't play against the Giants, the Cowboys won't likely announce it until just before kickoff. Rookie Andrew Szczerba may not be ready for the 53-man roster, but he could be practice-squad worthy.
Offensive Line (8)
Analysis:The Cowboys have kept as many as 11 offensive linemen in recent years, and have often found room for 10, but were disappointed by this spring's undrafted free agent crop. The team had particularly high hopes for Memphis guard Ronald Leary, but he faded in the preseason. Cook adds versatility with this experience to play all three positions, including center.
Defensive Line (7)
Analysis:The Cowboys have traditionally kept only six defensive linemen since switching to the 3-4, but went one long in 2011, and appear likely to do so again this year. They've decided to move on from Clifton Geathers, a project who made the roster in 2011. The team will look to retain one or two players at the position for their practice squad, possibly Ben Bass and/or Robert Calloway.
Analysis:With the team sitting Bruce Carter against Miami on Wednesday, but playing Dan Connor, it appears the 2011 second-round pick has won the competition to start next to Sean Lee. An interception return for a touchdown versus the Dolphins may not save Orie Lemon, who was a member of the practice squad all last year and could return.
Defensive Back (10)
Analysis:Despite barely participating since the draft, due to a practice eligibility issue and two hamstring injuries, fourth-round safety Matt Johnson survives. Mike Jenkins (shoulder) avoided beginning the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list by passing a physical on Wednesday. He is eligible to begin practicing on Saturday.
Special Teams (3)
Analysis: There is no drama here. The Cowboys trimmed all of the competition away by the first cut, as these three were expected all along. The punter Jones has two games under his belt but has been rather solid in the preseason. Bailey went 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts in the fourth exhibition games.