FRISCO, Texas – When Tuesday at 3pm arrives, the Cowboys – like all 32 NFL teams – will be down to 53 players.
Now, you can bet the 53 players on the roster right then, won't exactly be the same ones on the roster 24 hours later.
Expect some creative things the Cowboys will do to maneuver around some NFL rules, especially regarding injured players.
Basically, if the Cowboys want to leave the option open for certain guys like a Tyron Smith to return to the roster at any point this year, they'll have to be on the active roster for at least one day.
To do that, the Cowboys will likely cut a player – has to be a vested veteran who doesn't go through waivers – and then bring him back the next day when the injured guys revert to IR.
So, all that said, it's hard to decipher just what the Cowboys will do before Tuesday's cuts.
But either way, every position has a linger question or two. Let's go through the roster, looking for the biggest issue that faces the Cowboys at each spot.
- Quarterback – This one is rather simple – or seems to be. The Cowboys need to decide first if they're taking two or three QBs on the roster. And if it's two, which one makes the cut between Cooper Rush and Will Grier. If the decision is in favor of Rush, he also could be cut Tuesday and brought back Wednesday. Either one could also land up on the practice squad as well.
- Running Back – Another one that seems cut and dry. The Cowboys will keep Zeke and Pollard, but after that? Rico Dowdle has been the No. 3 back all along but Malik Davis made a strong push towards the end. Do they go with a younger, bigger back with upside or stick with Dowdle. Doesn't seem logical to keep four this year.
- Tight End – Now we're getting interesting. Go ahead and put Dalton Schultz and Jake Ferguson on the team. After that, it could be three or four. Rookie Peyton Hendershot seemingly did enough to make the team and the coaches love his athleticism. Sean McKeon is a solid player, but currently injured. He could be someone on the roster Tuesday but on IR the next day.
- Wide Receiver – This could be one of the trickiest positions on the team, especially because of the injured receivers such as Michael Gallup and James Washington. The Cowboys could keep Gallup on the roster, but inactive for game days until he's ready. That would likely mean they go a little longer on the depth chart. CeeDee, Noah Brown and Jalen Tolbert appear to be safe. Decisions must be made on guys like Simi Fehoko, Dennis Houston and perhaps Brandon Smith got himself in the mix. And don't forget about KaVontae Turpin. He's technically a receiver, too but will have a big role on special teams.
- Offensive Line – This position is way up in the air, thanks to the recent injury to Tyron Smith. The veteran will be on the roster for a day before moving to IR with his hamstring injury. The Cowboys are still looking for outside help and will probably take a very close look at every tackle that hits the wire over the next 24 hours. Players such as Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball will probably be here for developmental purposes, but not exactly ready to be the swing tackle.
- Defensive Line – Good luck with this one. The Cowboys have about 12-13 players who have a legitimate shot of making this roster, if not another team. Expect the Cowboys to be on the phone looking for possible trade partners to get something out of this excess talent. It will be tough to decide between some veterans such as Tarell Basham, Trysten Hill, Carlos Watkins and maybe even Dante Fowler.
- Linebacker – The decision here comes down to the Cowboys keeping veteran Luke Gifford and/or rookie Devin Harper. Everything else seems rather set, but special teams will factor into this decision.
- Safety – The Cowboys have three young safeties they really like, with probably room for only two. Markquese Bell and Israel Mukuamu seems to be the leading candidates, but Juanyeh Thomas has caught their eye all of camp and will be a tough cut.
- Cornerback – With rookie DaRon Bland likely making the team, the Cowboys must decide on either Kelvin Joseph or Nahshon Wright. Both of them were high draft picks last year and could likely stick around for another year. And don't forget about C.J. Goodwin, who should be back for another year on special teams. Goodwin is a candidate for someone to be released on Tuesday but back Wednesday.
- Special Teams – The Cowboys are expecting Jake McQuaide to be the long snapper, Brett Maher to handle the kicking duties and Bryan Anger as the punter. That's the plan for Sept. 11 against the Bucs. Anything that happens between now and then is probably irrelevant, as long as those three are on the roster for the first game.