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Mailbag: How Is The Practice Squad Comprised? Gathers' Blocking Ability?

The Cowboys seem to have a few players in camp that are viewed as "Ron Leary" types. That is, those that are not ready to make the 53-man roster but could do so with a year on the practice squad. That brings me to the question: how is the practice squad built? Is it purely the 10 best players that are cut? Or do they look to account for each major position group (ex. 1 CB, 1 WR, 2 OL, etc.) in case of emergency call up needs?

Bryan: Love these types of questions. You think about the quality of your roster first, then you look at how many bodies you need to practice. When I was in scouting, I always wanted to have a player or two that wasn't in our camp to begin with. Those spots on the practice squad are good to change your roster without really adjusting your 53 guys. Some teams will carry extra guys on the practice squad by switching guys out weekly so have a rotating roster of 13 guys.

David:I think it depends entirely on the makeup of your roster. For instance, when Tony Romo was the Cowboys' starting quarterback, it made sense to keep a developmental guy on the practice squad. Now, with a 24-year-old starter, I'm not sure that's as big of a priority. I think this team will want to keep offensive and defensive linemen in the fold to protect against injury. It's also a good bet that they'll want a linebacker or two, given that they're thin at that spot. It really just depends on what they think they need when the 53-man roster is set.

I was impressed with the way Gathers caught the ball against Arizona. But we expected him to have soft hands and catch well because of his basketball career. I am more interested in his blocking. The average Joe cannot see the game films that the team sees after a game. I was wondering what Gathers looked like on film from a blocking aspect. Has he grown enough in his skill and technique that we can feel good about him protecting Dak's backside?

Bryan: He has the size and athletic ability to be a good blocker and at times he is. There are also times where he gets too tall and it hurts him with his leverage. There are also times where you see that he is really not sure who he is supposed to block. The effort and desire is good but the execution and understanding tends to be what hurts him the most which is what happened in this game.

David:I don't think there's any question that he has gotten a lot better in every aspect of his game, but I'm always very confident the coaches don't trust him quite as much as they trust experienced tight ends like James Hanna and Geoff Swaim. I think Rico is good enough to make the final roster, but I'm not expecting him to just jump right into the mix with the first-team offense.


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