Cowboys players at rookie camp.
Making an NFL roster is not an easy task. Every training camp, numerous players will be cut in their attempt to make a 53-man roster.
There are also eight spots teams hold that create what’s known as the practice squad. These players are usually younger guys that teams put aside to build their skill and to have talent available in case of injury.
On July 21, the Dallas Cowboys will open training camp in Oxnard, California. Here, the coaching staff will evaluate the talent on the roster and determine which players will be around this season.
Having a strong practice team is essential to having success in this league because of how often injuries occur. The 2012 Cowboys know this all too well.
Here are seven players that will be looking to make the active roster this summer, but will probably find themselves on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.
All statistics via Sports-Reference, unless indicated otherwise.
Benford could be on the practice squad for a second straight year.
The wide receiver position in Dallas is one of the strongest parts of its 2013 team. It’s loaded at the top few spots with star talent and has solid depth throughout.
This makes earning a roster spot quite difficult for people like Tim Benford.
Benford is an undrafted free agent from Tennessee Tech. Last season, he spent the entire year on the Cowboys practice squad.
Part of the problem for Benford is his small stature. The receiver is only 5’11” weighing around 195 pounds.
In the NFL, it’s tough to be a productive receiver with that kind of size.
What Benford has shown is his ability to use his quickness to create big plays. In the final preseason game in 2012, he had three catches including one for 36 yards.
What also helps Benford is that he brings a different talent than many of the Cowboys receivers. Besides Dwayne Harris, no one has really shown he can thrive at the slot position.
Benford would be a great guy to have on the practice squad in case someone goes down or the other slot receivers don’t produce.
Magee will fight for a backup role.
Brandon Magee has a real chance to make the Cowboys roster this year. The former Arizona State Sun Devil is another undrafted free agent Dallas has high hopes for.
In fact, Dallas gave Magee $70,000 in guaranteed money, more than any seventh-round draft pick could make.
Even though he has decent size, Magee’s strengths lie in his speed and ability to move quickly. This allows him to get out and cover both backs and receivers well.
Magee didn’t get drafted in part because of an Achilles injury he suffered in 2011. However, he recovered nicely last season recording 113 tackles.
Dallas has great starting linebackers in Lee and Carter, but there is no proven depth behind them. Magee has a chance to contend for one of these backup spots.
Lawrence has incredible speed.
The Cowboys running back situation is very interesting heading into training camp. Although Dallas has a star in starter DeMarco Murray, he’s yet to complete an entire season.
This is what led to using the team’s fifth-round draft choice on Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle. Once again, there are high expectations for Randle, but no one knows what he will actually bring to the organization.
Then there is the battle for the third position. The three guys competing will be Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner and undrafted free agent Kendial Lawrence.
Lawrence is a guy who went under the radar during the draft and could be the next diamond in the rough. He is extremely fast, posting a 4.33 40-yard dash time in his pro day at Missouri.
With speed like this, he could very well make the Cowboys roster and be a great change-of-pace back.
If he doesn’t impress coaches enough to make the active roster, he’ll be someone Dallas holds onto with a practice squad spot. With the way the Cowboys running backs get hurt, Lawrence could have an impact this year.
Brewer will need to have a good training camp.
Xavier Brewer is another name many Cowboys fans are probably unfamiliar with. He went undrafted despite being one of the better secondary players in the ACC at Clemson.
Brewer is listed on the Dallas depth chart as a cornerback, although he played safety while in college as well. This proves how he is a versatile player that can potentially move around the field if need be.
Brewer showed how productive he was with Clemson with his ability to make big plays. Last season, he recorded eight tackles for loss while forcing four turnovers.
Similar to the linebacker spot, the Cowboys cornerbacks are set at the starting positions, but there isn’t much depth behind them. Orlando Scandrick is the only proven player really, so the spot for the fourth corner is wide open.
If Brewer can turn heads at camp, he could snag a place on the roster somewhere.
Lawrence needs to get bigger.
Another linebacker who’ll be fighting for a backup role on the team is Cameron Lawrence. Like many others on the list, he is an undrafted free agent.
Holding Lawrence back from going in the draft and being a solid NFL player is his size. He’s 6’3” but only weighs 230 pounds. In order for him to play anywhere, he’s going to have to add body mass.
Besides his size, Lawrence is everything you want in a player. He’s extremely instinctive and plays with a very high motor.
In his last two years at Mississippi State, he averaged more than 120 tackles while forcing eight turnovers at linebacker.
He’s someone that coaches adore. He works extremely hard and is always hustling.
Because of his size, there’s no way he can be an NFL linebacker right now. If he doesn’t produce on special teams, look for Dallas to hold onto Lawrence by throwing him on the practice squad.
Coale will contend for a spot if he stays healthy.
The Cowboys drafted Danny Coale in the fifth round in the 2012 draft. He suffered several injuries during the course of the year, preventing him from making the active roster and ending his season with an ACL tear in November.
Coale is someone who can make the team as potentially the fifth wide receiver. He’s battling the likes of Cole Beasley, Anthony Amos, Anthony Armstrong, Jared Green, Eric Rodgers and Benford.
Despite his size (6’0”, 196 lbs), Coale has to be one of the favorites to get that spot. Dallas showed its interest in the receiver by using the draft pick and signing him to a practice squad contract.
Coale definitely has work to do in training camp to move up the depth chart though. Beasley played well at times last year, and I can’t see Dallas keeping both players on the active roster.
Hamilton could sneak his way onto the roster.
Jakar Hamilton is the last player who might find himself on the practice squad. He is another undrafted rookie Dallas recently picked up.
Hamilton initially went to school at Georgia but then transferred to South Carolina State.
Although he’s not the most athletic person, Hamilton is a nice player that reads situations well and can tackle in space. He doesn’t get fooled often and likes to play physically.
What gives him a real chance to make the team is the crapshoot Dallas currently has at its safety position. Barry Church, Matt Johnson, Will Allen and J.J. Wilcox are all ahead of him, but no one besides Allen has accomplished anything in their careers.
Hamilton should contend for one of the backup roles and at the very least be a practice squad candidate.