amount of proficiency on kickoffs, let alone field goals of late, forced the Cowboys to keep Shaun Suisham. No way on game days could Parcells qualify bringing five specialists to the game on his 45-man roster, and when you consider a kicker, punter, deep snapper and now kickoff guy, there was no room for Green as the return ace, no matter if he excelled in four preseason games or not.
Because, after all, in Parcells' book, this is more about the 45-man game-day roster than it is about the always in flux 53-man roster, and he instructed so early last week when he accused the media of "hop-scotching around" trying to prematurely piece together a 53-man roster:
"And it goes back to the same thing that I've always told you since I got here - Who you takin' to the game and how many plays is the guy going to play?
"I would just say, and I'm speaking seriously here, if you would concentrate on the 45-man roster as opposed to the 53-man roster, you probably are a long way ahead, because that's what I'm really concentrating on. That's what I have to do first, kind of keep that in mind."
Well, OK, then let's give that a shot, try to take this 53-man roster down to 45 on game day, which means we have to subtract eight, and this time around, since the Cowboys kept only two quarterbacks, that will not include the inactive third quarterback. Eight legitimate players.
So, the Cowboys kept six receivers, but my guess is, since Jamaica Rector can return punts - the Cowboys have Terence Newman and Patrick Crayton now listed as their top two punt returners on the recently-released "unofficial" depth chart - he goes and rookie free agents Sam Hurd and Miles Austin don't. And because of that very fact, plus performing so well as a receiver, Rector had the roster edge over Green, possibly headed to the practice squad if he clears waivers. So that's two.
Last year Parcells perilously rolled the dice with seven active offensive linemen on game day, but if Andre Gurode is his starting center, then unlike last year when Gurode was the backup center and guard, he's going to have to take eight to the game. Al Johnson figures to be the backup center, but because he doesn't play guard, then Cory Procter dresses, and the final spot comes down to Fabini or McQuistan, who is supposed to start practicing this week at both tackle positions. So that's three.
Now then, Parcells kept seven defensive linemen on the roster for three positions, though I'd imagine Kenyon Coleman still is on the trading block. I'm guessing the most he can bring to a game is six, but probably five since Ellis still can play a little defensive end in a pinch. And since the Cowboys are considering Jay Ratliff a defensive end capable of taking some snaps at nose tackle, and have worked Jason Hatcher as an inside pass rusher on the nickel defense, there might be the only two backups on game day. So that's now five.
Three to go.
Linebacker. They kept nine. No way nine go to the game. Eight at the most, maybe seven, since backup inside guy Bobby Carpenter can play some outside in a pinch. Hoyte you would think is the odd man out since Al Singleton gives you some experience, Burnett is playing on the first nickel, Carpenter can back up two positions and Ryan Fowler not only is the only legit backup to Bradie James, but he's also the emergency deep snapper. So that's six.
Two to go.
Now there isn't exactly a surplus of defensive backs. They have nine, five corners and four safeties, all of whom would be productive special teams players. But then the Cowboys have worked backup corners Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves at safety some, not a lot. Parcells will have to sit at least a safety or corner, maybe both. Chances are that's at least either Jones or Elam. So that's seven.
One to go.
Vanderjagt decides that. If he kicks off this week with some authority, and is able to proficiently kick field goals, too, then Suisham sits. If not, Suisham must at least kick off. He's your luxury, the one you had hoped to spend on Green or Hurd or Hoyte or Johnson.
That means a necessity must go. Maybe Lousaka Polite. Maybe Elam. Maybe . . . gosh, this is really hard.
No wonder Parcells said, "Now this is one of the worst