With the final two cut days looming, a number of rookies and veterans will be vying for a handful of roster spots as the Dallas Cowboys play host to the Houston Texans in the final week of the preseason Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.
Dallas, still reeling from the loss of quarterback Tony Romo for a reported six to 10 weeks after an awkward hit to his surgically repaired back during last week’s loss to Seattle, will likely look to see if current second-stringer Jameill Showers is worthy of being rookie sensation Dak Prescott’s back-up and there could be more battles at running back and along the defensive line.
The Texans, who are thus far perfect in the preseason following a 34-24 victory over Arizona, and head coach Bill O’Brien have already made several cuts at defensive tackle, offensive line, and linebacker but may see several players at wide receiver and at linebacker jostling for spots on the 53-man roster.
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett may have to decide if Showers can fill a role he’s never had before or if the Cowboys should hit free agency for a veteran back-up. Following Romo and Kellen Moore’s injuries, Dallas only has two healthy quarterbacks on the roster and though Prescott’s a rookie he’s been terrific in the first three preseason games.
Showers has completed 37 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, but a backup signal caller usually has some NFL experience as a starter.
At running back, rookie Ezekiel Elliott firmly holds down the starting spot but injured second-stringer Darren McFadden may leave some hope for veteran Alfred Morris and rookie Darius Jackson.
McFadden underwent right elbow surgery in the offseason and has yet to even see the practice field, which has allowed the former Eastern Michigan star Jackson to trudge along for 120 yards off 31 carries and Morris to gain 113 yards on 21 attempts.
At defensive tackle, thanks to the four-game suspensions for Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, rookies Rodney Coe, Maliek Collins, and Charles Tapper are angling for a position as well.
Meanwhile, the Texans already parted ways Monday with defensive tackle Ra’Zahn Howard, as well as linebackers Ryan Langford and Carlos Thompson, as well as offensive tackles Matt Pierson, according to the Houston Chronicle.
With Langford and Thompson now reportedly gone, rookies Brennan Scarlett, Shakeel Rashad, and Eric Lee could be in line to make the final squad if they can put together solid performances against Dallas.
At receiver, former Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller may have a spot locked down after leading Houston with 10 catches for 97 yards, and first-round pick Will Fuller has netted 144 yards and two scores off eight receptions. That could leave Tevin Jones, Wendall Williams, and Quenton Bundrage on the outside looking in.
Teams are scheduled to slim rosters down to 75 players on Tuesday, with the final round of cuts to 53 players scheduled to finish by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 3.
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channels: KTVT CBS 11 (Dallas); KTRK-TV (Houston)
Live Stream: A live stream is available at NFL Game Pass