The Dallas Cowboys cut their roster down to 75 players on Tuesday, but more moves are on the way. The teams must settle on a final 53-man roster by Saturday, just two days after their fourth and final preseason game of 2015.
Dallas is set to host the Houston Texans on Thursday night, as they look to win their first exhibition game of the year. The Cowboys lost to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, and while the final score of this week’s game might not matter much, the performances of certain players will determine whether or not they’re on the team in Week 1 of the regular season.
A lot of the starters will sit on Thursday, but the Cowboys are looking for positive signs out of a few players that are guaranteed to make the roster. Dallas has some key players returning from injuries that remain questions marks heading into the season opener.
With the season-ending injury to Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys have a lot of uncertainty in the secondary. Morris Claiborne will replace him as one of the team’s starting cornerbacks, but he hasn’t given Dallas much reason to be confident.
Claiborne has been banged up during much of his time with the Cowboys, and he’s underperformed when he’s been healthy enough to be on the field. Dallas’ former No.1 pick didn’t play in the first two preseason games, and it’s unknown if he’ll be ready to play through the team’s entire season opener.
The wide receiver has a good chance to be on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster, but his spot isn’t guaranteed. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Devin Street will still be with the team on Saturday, and Dallas still has a decision to make regarding their fifth receiver spot.
Whitehead seems to have an edge on others competing to be one of Romo’s targets this season. He only caught two passes in the last preseason game, but one was for a touchdown. He returned two punts against the Vikings, as well, though he wasn’t impressive enough to secure himself a spot on the roster.
The defensive tackle played in three games for the Cowboys last year as the team’s seventh-round draft pick, but there might not be room for him on the roster in 2015. With players like Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford set to make the roster, Bishop is battling with Davon Coleman to make the team.
Coleman played well against Minnesota, recording three tackles, including two for a loss. Bishop didn’t record a tackle against the Vikings, and he needs to have an above-average performance on Thursday.
Smith played well in Week 3, recording three tackles and showing that he can be a contributor to the team. But the available spots at linebacker are limited, and Dallas released Smith after he played 10 games for them last season.
Jasper Brinkley could keep Smith off the roster, considering he was given a two-year deal with $2 million guaranteed in the offseason. Brinkley totaled four tackles and a sack last game, though Smith still has a chance to make the 53-man roster because of his prowess on special teams.