IRVING, Texas – This is always one of the toughest days on the NFL calendar, and I remember it well from my time as a scout in this league. It's a necessary step toward the regular season, but the Cowboys just cut 20 young guys who spent the last five months giving everything they had to make the team.
In light of that, I wanted to go over all of these guys and share with you what I saw during training camp. On top of that, I want to talk about which of these guys have a future with the Cowboys as potential practice squad players.
Ray Agnew, FB: It was always going to be difficult for him to make the roster with how much the staff used Tyler Clutts in those various offensive roles and on special teams. Most extensive playing time came in that final preseason game against the Texans and there was nothing special.
Donnie Baggs, LB: Will likely end up on the practice squad if he clears waivers. He's a nice fit in this scheme due to his ability to run and chase the ball. Showed the ability to finish when he was in position. Appears to have some position flex with his game at linebacker.
Ben Gardner, DE: Thought it was going to be close on whether he made the roster or not. Might be a guy that is a better game day player than he is a practice one. Very productive against the 49ers and Texans, but also had his moments where he disappeared. Struggled to win consistently one-on-one against lesser competition.
Clyde Gates, WR: Signed during middle of camp and tried to make the best of his opportunity, but he just couldn't make up enough ground. For a veteran receiver – you didn't see him making veteran plays. Had trouble separating in practices and games.
Laurence Gibson, OT: Surprising how far off he was, technique-wise, coming from a program such as Virginia Tech. Was expecting to see a much different player and I am sure the front office and coaches where thinking the same thing. Will get a chance to improve on the practice squad to see if there is development there.
Ka'Lial Glaud, LB: Veteran player that was added to the roster while the team was in California. Was one of those players that flashed more than he consistently made plays. Never felt there were any traits that were strong enough that would have allowed him to make this squad.
Nick Harwell, WR: I will be interested to see if the front office adds him to the practice squad if he clears waivers, or if they go another direction? Started out in OTAs and minicamps making plays and was able to carry that over in training camp and in the Chargers game. Was thinking that he might have a chance for that final spot with the receivers, but he couldn't outplay Lucky Whitehead.
A.J. Jenkins, WR: Made it interesting in those final days in Oxnard, but there was also three weeks where he was a non-factor. Really been the story of his career.
Dakorey Johnson, LB: Would have never known that he was on the team until he made back-to-back tackles against the Texans. Has a slippery way in which he gets to the ball and there is a side of me that believes that these defensive coaches might want to put him on the practice squad and work with him further.
Gus Johnson, RB: Really steady in the way he plays. Tough runner with the ball in his hands along with the vision to see holes and make cuts. Not going to run away from tacklers but will finish runs. Had some nice blitz pickup opportunities in the Texans game where he gave you some hope that he can develop. Will likely beat out Ben Malena for that practice squad running back spot.
Ben Malena, RB:His height is always going to limit what he can do pass protection-wise, but he is an explosive player that can catch the ball. Thought he was better than Gus Johnson when it came to making bigger plays. I really like his running style, but I am most likely alone in my thoughts about the player.
Shane McDermott, C: Another player that I would like to try and develop on the practice squad because of his ability to play on his feet. It was rare to see him on the ground or out of position on blocks. Front office might try and go with a bigger guy to develop, but I thought this kid handled himself well in training camp.
Efe Obada, DE: The improvement from his first practice as a tight end in minicamp to his final rush against the Texans was quite a story. Every day Obada just tried to get better in one area and for the most part I believe that he accomplished that. To be honest I am not sure in what direction that this front office might go with him -- perhaps a practice squad spot? My gut is that he is not a lock.
Ronald Patrick, OG: This was his second training camp with the club, and for the most part, he performed well for what he was asked to do. He's physically limited in what he can do as well as in his growth potential. Will always be a stop-gap, hold-the-fort type of player.
Joel Ross, CB: I have to tip my cap to this kid and what he was able to do during this training camp. While others around him missed practices and games – he was right there to answer the bell down after down. Ross played with an incredible amount of mental toughness and effort, but his size limits his effectiveness. Could see the front office going in a different direction in the hope of landing a corner that fits more their style and scheme for the practice squad.
Tim Scott, S: Has some position flex in the way that he can line up as a safety, but he could also give you a snap or two at corner. More than a willing tackler despite not having safety size. Is not afraid to stick his nose in the action when asked. Only poor play of training camp was the blocked punt against the 49ers, but he showed enough to put him on the practice squad.
Jameill Showers, QB: Thought he might have a shot to make this roster as a jack-of-all-trades player, but they needed his spot. You never feel good about putting quarterbacks on waivers because all it takes is one team to have a vision for the player. Teams are going to have to go back on their college reports if they are interested in claiming him.
Rod Sweeting, CB: Will battle hard and compete -- but just not good enough. Filled a role when he came to the club off the street and will now most likely get a couple of game checks as a settlement for being waived injured.
Dustin Vaughan, QB: Will get the opportunity to continue his development on the practice squad instead of the 53-man roster like last season. The goal was to get him plenty of work during camp and the preseason games to see where he was at and I believe they accomplished that. Was outstanding against the Chargers but that was it. As a quarterback you are judged on your ability to move the team on drives and this is where he struggled the most.
John Wetzel, OT: Showed the ability to play both as a guard and tackle -- which is a positive. The negative is that you would like to find better, but he will most likely be back on the practice squad where this coaching staff will continue to work with him because of their comfort level with him. Not sure he can really improve on what we have seen from him so far.