5 Dallas Cowboys Roster Hopefuls Likely to Survive Preseason Cuts
5 Dallas Cowboys Roster Hopefuls Most Likely to Make the Team
The next few days will be the most intense of the year (and possibly the lifetime) for hundreds of roster hopefuls throughout the NFL. Each of the league's 32 teams must cut their rosters from 90 players to 75 on Tuesday and then down to the final 53 on Saturday. That means many players who have become part of their respective teams will be cut loose suddenly and forced to look for work elsewhere. The situation is no different at Valley Ranch for the Dallas Cowboys.
As is the case every year, many players who have caught the eye of the fans won't be around once the exhibitions are over and the real games begin. But of course, there are also the handful of players on the bubble who have made the most of their opportunities and will likely beat the odds to make the 53-man roster.
The Cowboys have quite a few such players, but there are five who have really turned heads during the preseason, and especially in Dallas' preseason "win" over the Cincinnati Bengals.
That dress rehearsal exhibition gave us a pretty clear picture as to which of the roster hopefuls will survive the last two rounds of cuts, so we'll introduce them here and try to figure out which ones are likely to not only make the team, but make an impact for the Cowboys in 2013.
The Cowboys' fourth-round pick looked absolutely dreadful in the Cowboys' preseason game against the Raiders when he was beat deep and took several bad angles on poor tackle attempts. But since then, the William & Mary product has made huge strides in his development as a young NFL player and now he's a favorite to make the team.
With Morris Claiborne out against the Bengals, Webb made the most of his playing time in the slot and the nickel package, so he could see plenty of playing time as the fourth cornerback, which could easily include periods as the No. 3 option if Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick or Brandon Carr are hurt at any point during the regular season.
The Cowboys are trying really hard to get Armstrong on the roster; he's played a truckload on special teams throughout the preseason in addition to his work with the second- and third-team offense and he saw 22 offensive snaps and 10 special teams plays in the dress rehearsal against the Bengals, which a good sign the scales are tipped in his favor when it comes to the cuts.
It's still uncertain how many receivers the Cowboys will keep in addition to their five locks for the final roster, if any. In the ever-increasing likeliness the Cowboys keep six receivers, Armstrong will be No. 6 and it's obvious the team wants to keep him around for special teams, if nothing else.
There's no one at Valley Ranch who doesn't like this undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State and it's easy to see why: Jeff Heath has made a ton of big plays on defense for a team that has been thin at safety for years.
Heath won't break any records for interceptions, but he might set marks for forced fumbles; his bone-crushing hit on Bengals receiver Cobi Hamilton on Saturday drew several confident nods of approval from the Cowboys' coaches and front office officials. Put simply, Heath is a playmaker with a nose for the ball who knows how to force turnovers. He'll make the team.
Although he's had an up-and-down preseason, Phillip Tanner has made the most of his opportunities to play with the first team and that's all that matters. After DeMarco Murray was benched following a fumble against the Bengals, Tanner only tallied 39 yards on 14 carries, but he barreled his way for two yards on a fourth-and-one at the Bengals' 35-yard-line that fired up Dallas' sideline and erased any doubt that he's a hard runner.
In addition, Murray's new nickname will be the "glass runner" if he misses any more time with injury and with Lance Dunbar out right now as well, Tanner is more injury insurance than anything else. Fifth-round pick Joseph Randle is obviously a roster lock for his rookie season but the Cowboys need four running backs when one of them is Murray, and Tanner got the first-team reps when the starter was benched so he'll likely make the team.
The rookie from South Carolina continued his impressive preseason with four tackles and a sack against the Bengals after recording two interceptions in the Cowboys' first three preseason games, including one he took back 75 yards for a touchdown.
Holloman is the latest in a trio of linebackers that have turned out to be diamonds in the rough. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are quietly turning into superstars and Holloman is apparently following right in their footsteps. Because of that, he'll likely make a big impact for the Cowboys as a rookie, so he's obviously a lock to make the 53-man roster.