Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble
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The Dallas Cowboys have several players firmly on the bubble of making the roster. This year’s training camp will determine which of these guys earn the right to make the team in 2013.
Part of the reason these players are on the bubble is because of the depth at their respective position. Another is the fact that some players are simply unproven.
Whether through draft picks or free-agent signings, Dallas is stronger at certain positions than it was a year ago. Acquiring a spot in the secondary or at tight end could be especially difficult this summer.
It’s a coach’s dream to have competition at every position, but it means that some good talent gets left off the roster.
These Dallas Cowboys will need to show their worth or most likely get left off the 2013 roster.
All statistics via Pro Football Reference, unless indicated otherwise.
David Arkin, Guard
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The Dallas Cowboys drafted David Arkin in the fourth round in 2011 anticipating he would become a regular starter. That has been everything but true.
Through two seasons with the team, Arkin has yet to start a regular-season game. He was inactive for his entire rookie year and only appeared in one game last season.
Arkin is naturally a guard, but he attempted to play some center last year during the preseason. During his short stints on the field, Arkin has been overpowered at both positions.
He’s also shown to be undisciplined, committing numerous penalties in preseason games.
The drafting of center Travis Frederick adds a lot more depth to the offensive line. People like Ryan Cook and Phil Costa now have the potential to strictly play guard if Frederick can solidify the center spot.
All of these factors combined create a difficult situation for Arkin at this year’s camp. The Cowboys would love to have as much depth as possible on the line, but there’s no need to keep him if he won’t play.
This training camp could be Arkin’s last opportunity to show the coaching staff that he can create a positive impact.
Phillip Tanner, Running Back
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Phillip Tanner is another player who doesn’t know if he’ll be on the team next year.
The third-year running back out of Middle Tennessee State has yet to really have an opportunity to show his skill in Dallas. Despite the injury to starter DeMarco Murray, Tanner didn’t see too many touches. In 13 games last season, he only carried the ball 25 times for a measly 61 yards.
Part of the problem Tanner will have making this year’s roster is the solid depth in the Dallas backfield.
Behind Murray, Dallas used its fifth-round selection in the draft to take Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle. He will split some series with Murray to lighten his load to try to prevent another injury.
The Cowboys will most likely only keep one other running back besides the fullback Lawrence Vickers. This leaves Tanner and second-year back Lance Dunbar.
Dunbar has more explosiveness and better ability to catch the ball out of the backfield than Tanner. Although both haven’t proved much of anything in their young careers, the 2013 training camp and preseason will determine which player remains a Cowboy.
Josh Brent, Defensive Tackle
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Josh Brent is in a situation different than any other player on the roster. His reason for being on the bubble is because of his off-the-field issues.
Last December, Brent allegedly was intoxicated while crashing his vehicle. In the process, teammate Jerry Brown was killed.
Brent played in 12 games last year, recording 1.5 sacks before his incident. Dallas had high hopes for its defensive tackle but now must look at his situation completely differently.
With jail time and suspension seeming imminent, there’s plenty of reason to doubt that Brent will be on the team in 2013.
Danny McCray, Safety
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Danny McCray was a big part of Dallas’ defense in 2012. The safety from LSU started his first 10 games of his career last season due in large part to an injury-depleted defense.
The problem McCray had was his inconsistency. He forced only one turnover throughout the year and didn’t look too good in general.
McCray’s inexperience at the position was evident, and receivers exploited his weaknesses on a weekly basis.
The Cowboys secondary this year has a lot more depth than it did a year ago. Players like Matt Johnson and Barry Church are returning from injury and will get plenty of playing time. The team also signed veteran safety Will Allen and drafted J.J. Wilcox in April’s draft.
With all of these players vying for the two safety spots, it seems as if McCray is the odd man out. He will have to shine on special teams once again if he intends on making the roster.
Dante Rosario, Tight End
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The last Cowboy firmly on the roster bubble is newly acquired tight end Dante Rosario. Dallas signed the seventh-year player earlier this month.
Rosario only caught 10 passes while in San Diego last season; however, three of those were for touchdowns.
Dallas has shown that it will use more two-tight end sets with the emphasis it has put on the position this offseason. Beyond signing Rosario, the Cowboys drafted Gavin Escobar in the second round.
Rosario will probably fit in well with the offense as another red-zone target for Tony Romo, but the depth at the position is deep.
Jason Witten is coming off his first 100-catch season and is expected to play at a Pro Bowl-caliber level again. Escobar will fill in as the backup while youngster James Hanna occupies the third spot.
Hanna didn’t play much last year, but while he was on the field, he showed great pass-catching ability.
Even with Dallas planning on using its tight ends in wide variety of ways, it will be difficult for Rosario to see playing time. Like many others, he’ll need to provide an impact on special teams in order to make the team.