Scout's Notebook: Cowboys' Roster Decisions, Swaim's Role, Giants Matchup

FRISCO, Texas – Following final roster cuts, Week 1 of the 2016 season is here as the Cowboys get set for Sunday's opener against the Giants at AT&T Stadium.

Here are a few thoughts as we get the week started – first looking back on the Cowboys' roster moves over the weekend, then looking ahead to Sunday's matchup.

  • Have to admit I was disappointed that my "Gut Feeling" from the weekend, that the front office and coaching staff would be aggressive with their claiming spot, didn't take shape. Nobody respects the job these scouts do more than me. It was my life for many years and there is not a day that goes by where I don't miss some aspects of the job, especially on roster reduction days. I have always believed there is a player out there better than the one I am currently playing with. For Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett, that wasn't the case, which to me is surprising considering that Garrett in the past has shown a willingness to work with the roster no matter the time of year.
  • There are those who might want to believe the Cowboys were beat on a claim. Reading the wire, Cleveland, Tennessee and San Diego were the only teams ahead of them in the order. The Browns claimed five players, one of those being Tyrone Holmes, a defensive end whom they had no interest in. The Titans' only claim was tight end Jace Amaro. The Chargers took three players, the only defensive player being Caraun Reid, who played as an under tackle (or three technique) for the Lions. With this information in hand, what Jason Garrett told us Monday during his press conference is true – as an organization they just didn't feel it was necessary to claim players for their roster.
  • Last week on Cowboys Break, we floated the idea of the roster having two fullbacks on it. Keith Smith and Rod Smith do more than just line up for two or three snaps a game. They're quality backups at other spots like running back and linebacker, but more importantly they are core special teams players. They line up on all the teams. They cover kicks and block. You take them to the game; it's worth the investment. So before you throw your hands up in disgust, don't focus on the position but instead look at the players at the position to have a better understanding of why they did what they did with those roster spots.
  • This might sound a little crazy, but I think Geoff Swaim is going to give this "12" personnel package a jump in the pass game. I'm not trying to take anything away from James Hanna and what he does as a blocker, but with Swaim they have more of a dual threat. Swaim has improved where he doesn't get overpowered at the point and becomes a liability. He is learning how to fit and work his feet in a way that puts himself between the defender and the ball. Swaim has done a better job of playing on his feet which is an area I thought he would really struggle. The big advantage of having Swaim on the field is opponents will have to respect his ability to get down the field and be a part of the passing game, where with Hanna that wasn't the case.
  • Started watching the New York Giants' offense – get ready for a ton of nickel in this game. They are a big "11" personnel team with Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz in the slot. They still have Larry Donnell at tight end but have also added Jerell Adams, a rookie from South Carolina, to the lineup. Adams presents problems because he can line up in several spots in the formation. Byron Jones and Barry Church are going to have to be on their toes in this matchup.   
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