In just over 24 hours, the Dallas Cowboys have to release 22 good men. That's 42 percent of the roster and about one player per hour. Based on what's happened thus far in organized team activities, training camp and the preseason, here's who we see making the final cut:
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Kyle Orton
Orton is one of the best backups in the league, and neither Stephen McGee nor Rudy Carpenter have done much to show they deserve roster spots. They'll use the extra spot elsewhere.
Running Back (3): DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner
Good thing Tanner had a nice game Wednesday because Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale both looked great. Dallas will try to get them onto the practice squad. That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see either back on the roster.
Fullback (2): Lawrence Vickers, Shaun Chapas
Chapas stays on board for temporary support while Jason Witten eases back from a lacerated spleen.
Wide Receiver (6): Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes
Harris can contribute on special teams, and Holmes is there in case Austin or Bryant aren't healthy enough to go.
Tight End (3): Jason Witten, John Phillips, James Hanna
There's no disputing this order, although it wouldn't be out of the question for them to keep Andrew Szczerba with Witten hurting. Though I can't see them keeping six fullbacks and tight ends.
Offensive Tackle (3): Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Pat McQuistan
The lack of depth here is scary. I don't see a lot in McQuistan or Jermey Parnell, but McQuistan is more versatile.
Guard (4): Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ronald Leary, Derrick Dockery
They keep Dockery around for his experience, and they also have McQuistan and David Arkin if Livings and Bernadeau don't hold up.
Center (2): Phil Costa, David Arkin
Wouldn't be surprised, though, if they acquired a veteran between now and the opener.
Defensive End (5): Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Sean Lissemore, Clifton Geathers, Tyrone Crawford
My biggest surprise is the washed-up Kenyon Coleman, who is slated to start. Spears has had a great preseason, and it's time to give opportunities to Lissemore and Crawford.
Defensive Tackle (2): Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent
Brent is a crucial backup considering Ratliff's health concerns. Lissemore should get reps here too.
Outside Linebacker (5): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Alex Albright, Kyle Wilber
Adrian Hamilton goes to the practice squad. This is the deepest this unit has looked in quite some time.
Inside Linebacker (4): Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Connor, Orie Lemon
Lemon clinched the final roster spot with a stellar performance on Wednesday. Everyone else was always a lock.
Cornerback (5): Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Sandrick, Mario Butler
The only question is the order. Butler won't likely be active on game days.
Safety (4): Gerald Sensabaugh, Barry Church, Mana Silva, Danny McCray
Matt Johnson could go to the injured reserve, or they could try to sneak him onto the practice squad. Regardless, he won't likely play for Dallas this season.
Punter/Kicker: Chris Jones/Dan Bailey
There wasn't any competition here in the preseason.
Long snapper: L.P. Ladouceur
Smart to stick with the veteran.
Punt/kick returners: Dez Bryant/Felix Jones
No wasted roster spots on these guys, with Harris there for support.
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