On Friday, Aug. 31 the Dallas Cowboys, like every team in the NFL, will have to trim their roster down to 53 players.
After four preseason games, a training camp, and off-season work outs, players have tried to convince Dallas' coaches that they are worthy of a spot.
The Cowboys were bit by the injury bug early, specifically on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the receiving corps. Head coach Jason Garrett will have to identify which positions require the most depth, and those he can take a chance on.
Below are five players who have shined during the preseason and should make the final roster.
Cole Beasley WR
At first glance Beasley's size is less than underwhelming. The 5-foot-8 177-pound rookie out of Southern Methodist does not have prototypical size for an NFL wideout, but after four preseason games Beasley is tied for first on the team in catches and third in receiving yards, with 10 receptions and 144 yards.
James Hanna TE
Jason Witten's status for Week 1 against the New York Giants is still in doubt, and the tight end role has been an integral part of the Cowboys' offense since quarterback Tony Romo's tenure began.
Hanna was given an opportunity to shine after Witten suffered a lacerated spleen in the first preseason game, and he's delivered thus far. The sixth-round draft pick from Oklahoma has recorded 10 receptions for 111 yards in four preseason games.
Jamize Olawale RB
The locks at running back are DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones, but both have a long history with injuries which could cause the Cowboys to carry as many as four backs into the regular season. This is a three-player race between Olawale, fellow North Texas alum and rookie Lance Dunbar, and Phillip Tanner
Olawale leads Dallas in rushing in the preseason and had the teams' only rushing touchdown after three games. Tanner and Dunbar debuted against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 of the preseason, and combined for zero yards on six carries. While Dunbar broke for long runs against the Dolphins Wednesday, amassing 105 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, and Tanner also capped a drive with a touchdown, Olawale has been the most consistent among the three.
Ben Bass DE
The undrafted rookie impressed Cowboys coaches during mini-camp and was invited back to training camp. Since then the 6-foot-5 283-pound Bass has pushed veteran defensive ends like Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman, and after three preseason games led all defensive ends in tackles.
Alex Albright LB
Albright appeared in all 16 games last season, but recorded only 11 combined tackles. The Boston College standout equaled that total Wednesday against the Dolphins, and led Dallas in tackles after four preseason games. He not only should make the team again, but should have an increased role this season.