IRVING, Texas – It was no surprise to see 10 defensive backs on the Cowboys' 53-man roster after Saturday's cut downs. The breakdown of those 10 players is a different story.
The Cowboys elected to go with just four cornerbacks and six safeties on the 53, letting Sterling Moore go and sending Micah Pellerin to the practice squad. Moore came in late last season and filled in quickly and effortlessly, all things considered. He seemed to be a lock to make the final roster cuts.
That, apparently, was far from the case.
Moore was one of the most physical corners during training camp in Oxnard, consistently bothering receivers in one-on-one drills with his press coverage. He did allow a deep touchdown grab to Oakland receiver Brice Butler during the preseason, but he stuck with the receiver on that throw step for step.
That play was more of a tremendous throw and catch than a blatant error from Moore, who made some key stops throughout the preseason and appeared to be a more than serviceable fourth cornerback.
Instead, the Dallas staff is evidently comfortable going to games with four cornerbacks, primarily because the team runs few dime packages. It's still possible with one roster spot available that another corner joins the team or that Moore returns, but it's just as likely that spot goes to a defensive or offensive lineman.
If the Cowboys elect to go with four corners this weekend, they're just one injury away during the course of a game from B.W. Webb being the team's third cornerback.
Webb put together some nice plays in the preseason, but he's also demonstrated the normal growing pains of a small-school cornerback adjusting to the speed of the NFL game, and most of those mistakes occurred against backup receivers who won't be playing Sundays.
Oddly enough, Webb's interception during the preseason came while playing with the starting group, but it's a lot to ask of the fourth-round pick to be ready to take on starting receivers down after down this early in his career. The Cowboys could have protected themselves and their rookie corner by keeping Moore. [embedded_ad]
They know just as well as any team how quickly defensive backs can go down throughout the season, not to mention that Morris Claiborne hasn't been healthy this preseason and is just now returning to practice from a lingering knee injury. He may not be 100 percent when he takes the field this weekend.
Dallas' decision to leave Moore off the roster means the Cowboys must be prepared for the possibility of just three active players at the position if a cornerback gets injured during the game. If one of their top three cornerbacks goes down, then a player who hasn't seen the field in a regular season game will take meaningful reps in three and four wide receiver sets.
The team had some difficult decisions to make with injuries at multiple positions and a need for special teams help. It's now a massive opportunity for Webb, but a risky one and a chance that didn't need to be taken if the Cowboys kept Moore around.