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Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Predicting about 40 of the Cowboys’ 53 roster spots is a piece of cake. The other 13 are one heck of a challenge, but here’s my best shot. . .

    QB (2)
    Tony Romo
    Kyle Orton
    Comment: This should be pretty straightforward; I’d be shocked if the Cowboys keep Stephen McGee or Rudy Carpenter. I’ll be even more shocked if they can somehow trade McGee.
    RB (3)
    DeMarco Murray
    Felix Jones
    Phillip Tanner
    Comment: Two positions in and already our first major decision. I really like Lance Dunbar and I think he has an awesome shot at making the final roster, but it’s just a numbers game. Jamize Olawale has an outside shot as well.
    FB (1)
    Lawrence Vickers
    Comment: The Cowboys could very well keep Shaun Chapas simply to play special teams against the Giants if Jason Witten is out. I just don’t think you can leave a worthy player off of the roster to have a guy play special teams for one game, though.
    TE (3)
    Jason Witten
    John Phillips
    James Hanna
    Comment: Again, Witten’s potential absence in Week 1 could mess with some things. Andrew Szczerba has a chance to make the final roster (and probably end up getting cut after one game), but again, I don’t think you can release a talented young player to have a backup for one game.
    WR (6)
    Dez Bryant
    Miles Austin
    Kevin Ogletree
    Dwayne Harris
    Cole Beasley
    Andre Holmes
    Comment: I think the Cowboys will keep six receivers because 1) they have a bunch of young talent and 2) seven is simply too many. If they cut Danny Coale, they’ll try to sneak him onto the practice squad (likely unsuccessfully). Nonetheless, Holmes has shown too much potential to let him go. The top five are all set, in my opinion.
    Offensive Line (9)
    Tyron Smith
    Nate Livings
    Phil Costa
    Mackenzy Bernadeau
    Doug Free
    Ronald Leary
    Jermey Parnell
    David Arkin
    Derrick Dockery
    Comment: The offensive line could really go a number of ways. The top five are set, but nothing after that is certain. The ‘Boys could easily keep anywhere from eight to 10 offensive linemen. Parnell should make it as a swing tackle, and Arkin has center/guard versatility (kind of).
    A lot of people think undrafted guard Ronald Leary could get cut, but I don’t think so. I don’t think he’ll get to the practice squad, and the Cowboys obviously liked him enough to give him an enormous signing bonus. Because of his preseason struggles, though, I also have the team keeping Dockery simply for insurance purposes.
    Defensive Line (7)
    Jason Hatcher
    Kenyon Coleman
    Jay Ratliff
    Sean Lissemore
    Tyrone Crawford
    Josh Brent
    Clifton Geathers
    Comment: Will the Cowboys keep both Coleman and Marcus Spears? I think one has to go, and Spears has a greater cap hit. Plus, he was outplayed by Coleman in 2011.
    Two other players to consider are defensive end Ben Bass and defensive tackle Robert Callaway. Bass is probably fighting with Geathers for a roster spot, but Dallas might think they can get Bass onto the practice squad. Callaway has a real shot to at least be on the Week 1 roster because of Ratliff’s injury, but I think Lissemore’s versatility means Callaway is another practice squad candidate.
    LB (10)
    DeMarcus Ware
    Anthony Spencer
    Victor Butler
    Kyle Wilber
    Sean Lee
    Bruce Carter
    Dan Connor
    Alex Albright
    Adrian Hamilton
    Orie Lemon
    Comment: Most people don’t have the Cowboys retaining 10 linebackers. The final four names here could all go, and yes, that includes Connor. He hasn’t been great in the preseason and, if it comes down to Connor or Lemon, the Cowboys may opt for the upside of the younger linebacker. I think Carter has shown them enough to be comfortable. Nonetheless, if you can find a way to keep the sure thing in Connor without letting go of Lemon’s potential, I think that’s something you have to do.
    Albright has versatility and I think he’s shown too much to pass on. A lot of people think Hamilton will be on the outside looking in, and that would be a major disappointment to me. He’s been a favorite of mine, and I just don’t think there’s any way you can pass on his pass-rushing potential. I’m also fairly confident another team will sign him if the Cowboys try to place him on the practice squad.
    DB (9)
    Brandon Carr
    Morris Claiborne
    Mike Jenkins
    Orlando Scandrick
    Mario Butler
    Gerald Sensabaugh
    Barry Church
    Danny McCray
    Mana Silva
    Comment: The odd man out here is rookie fourth-rounder Matt Johnson. Johnson was simply never able to see much time on the field over the past few months. He could very well still make the roster because the Cowboys obviously liked him a lot in April. More likely, I think, is that Dallas will place Johnson on IR to retain him until 2013 and still get another guy on the roster.
    If Johnson makes the 53-man roster, I don’t think you’ll see it come at the expense of anywhere here. Instead, you might simply see the Cowboys keep five safeties. That’s a lot, but McCray is the Cowboys’ top special teams player and Silva played very well during the preseason.
    ST (3)
    Dan Bailey
    Chris Jones
    L.P. Ladouceur
    Comment: Special teams. Cool. 

    Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.

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    Blue Star Blog: Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply. Read more about it here.