With just mere hours until teams need to cut rosters to 53 for the season, Dallas and Wade Phillips will have some tough choices to make. I dont envy Phillips or any head coach this time of year for what they must do in cutting the fat and forming a team that will start the season. But like it or not, it is part of the job and part of the business.
Rookie Linebacker Stephen Hodge is one of those players fighting for a roster spot. However for Hodge his chances are slim and the options that the coaching staff have for him will result in another tough decision no matter what they choose. During the offseason Hodge had his knee scoped and has not been able to practice much because of it. That makes it tough for someone to make a team if he cant be evaluated properly. His persistent swelling in his knee is really complicating matters. Dallas can protect his rights by placing him on injured reserve and shutting him down for the season in hopes that he can be ready for next season. They can take a chance and release him hoping no other team picks him up, and then resign him to the practice squad. But because there are a few other injured players Dallas is waiting on, the chances of Hodge making the roster is slim. This is the tough side of the business.
Now on the other hand Dallas claimed Linebacker Curtis Johnson off waivers after the Colts cut him because of an injured hamstring and there is a good chance he will make the 53 man roster without ever getting on the field for the Cowboys because of the injury. He will not play in Fridays last preseason game. They really like the former Colt who played as a 4-3 defensive end but will be converted to an outside linebacker in the 3-4. “We knew about him coming out of college” Phillips said of Johnson who played 7 games with the colts last season. There is no way Dallas would pickup an injured player a few days before cuts if they didnt know what they where getting. They are high on his special teams abilities and after putting LB Brandon Williams on injured reserve, and LB Jason Williams nursing a high ankle sprain that will keep him out 4-6 weeks, Johnson should be back soon and should make the roster.
Wide Receiver Travis Wilson who has been on injured reserve was released and given an injury settlement… Backup offensive lineman Cory Proctor’s roster spot may be in jeopardy after Dallas signed 5 year veteran Duke Preston who plays the same positions. And it was Preston during practice snapping to Quarterback John Kitna not Proctor who didnt even get any work in during the drill… Fourth round pick Quarterback Stephen McGee is also sitting on that bubble. He is nursing a strained MCL and has been considered OK at best when he is able to participate and healthy. One thing going for him is the fourth round choice the Cowboys used on him, that may get him a spot for a little while anyway.
Lets see what happens in the next few days when the fat is cut, because a lot of the guys we have been watching in preseason wont be there for long, and you know there will be some surprises.