agents, Barry Church and Danny McCray. Both in three games have carved "keepers" on the front of their helmets. But you can't keep seven. Some might argue you can't keep six. Maybe you can if you don't keep five corners, but if you don't, then that probably means cutting Bryan McCann. These last two preseason games will go a long way toward solving this problem. Will youth prevail?
Offensive Linemen: Kyle Kosier's injury throws a wrench in the equation. Not so much missing him as a guard. Seems as though 48-game starter Montrae Holland can hold down the fort. The problem becomes backup center if Kosier is missing the first couple of games because he was supposed to be the backup. If he's not available, right now the next guy up is rookie-free agent Phil Costa. But is he ready to be one-play away from playing three quarters against the Redskins? Even if he is, Costa has only worked at center. He'd have to be active. So would Alex Barron, assuming Marc Colombo returns in time for the opener. Then who's the backup guard? Pat McQuistan? Travis Bright? Those are the current choices, and at that, the Cowboys would have to keep eight offensive linemen active instead of the usual seven consisting of a backup tackle and a guard/center. Bet they keep a keen eye on the waiver wire next week.
Tight End: The Cowboys have two for sure, Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. The third, John Phillips, will have reconstructive knee surgery when we return to The Ranch. He's toast for this season. After that, it's been DajLeon Farr, Scott Sicko and Jason Pociask, plus the late addition of former Cleveland fourth-round pick Martin Rucker. He's the most talented pass-catcher of the bunch, a college All-American, but probably not the H-back (blocker) Phillips had become. As much two-tight offense as the Cowboys play they need a third. But do they have one? Waiver wire? Trade? Or might they keep just two, and keep two fullbacks since Deon Anderson's current backup Chris Gronkowski was a true H-back at Arizona? Just a thought, since if you really need a third tight end to block on the line of scrimmage then call on the backup tackle. And as a true bone-crunching fullback, Gronkowski is nowhere near as powerful a blocker as Anderson.
Nose Tackle: The backup to Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff seemed an either/or proposition: Incumbent Junior Siavii or supplemental draft choice Josh Brent, who has played with a cast on his hand most of training camp. But owner Jerry Jones threw a little curveball Wednesday when asked the either/or question, responding with maybe both. Both? Just can't go long at wide receiver, safety and probably offensive line because of injuries, and then nose tackle, too. Very interesting.
Quarterback: And I refer to the third quarterback, Stephen McGee. My guess is he makes it. But then again, he's going to get a long look, maybe the entire game against Miami Thursday night. What if he doesn't impress, doesn't show any improvement over his first three preseason appearances? Too soon to give up on a fourth-round QB? So would he clear waivers and become eligible for the practice squad if waived? Keeping just two quarterbacks would open up a valuable roster spot at safety or wide receiver or on the offensive line, am I right, just as would David Buehler proving beyond a shadow of a doubt he can handle the placekicking chores, too.
So you see, this act of balancing the now and then is a tough one, especially when there is no salary cap and on top of that last year's evidence would suggest the time is indeed now for the Cowboys.
The vibes are strong. No unnecessary distractions. No bad actors. Continuity on the coaching staff.
As Jay Ratliff says, "We are more of a team than any team I've been on (here)."
Or as Jones says, sensing something could be brewing here, his usual optimism notwithstanding, "Right now, on paper, I'm pleased with the talent we have."
Talent yes, but you can't keep 'em all. Some serious decisions are on the near horizon, ones the Cowboys can't be cavalier about. This ain't fantasy football. These decisions you have to live with.