Roster Shuffling At Valley Ranch

The Cowboys made several key roster changes early Tuesday afternoon when they released CB Derek Ross. Ross, 23, was the Cowboys third round pick in the 2002 NFL draft out of Ohio State University.

The move to cut Ross comes as a shock to many around Valley Ranch because the 23-year-old served as the Cowboys' primary nickel cornerback and kick returnman. With Mario Edwards struggling in the Cowboys secondary, it had been rumored that Ross may take his place at cornerback alongside rookie Terrance Newman.

"It sends a message," Cowboys DT La'Roi Glover told reporters.

As a returnman on special teams, Ross had 18 returns for 434 yards, an average of 24.1 per kick, the highest on the team. Several sources have told SilverStarDigest that Ross was dismissed by coach Bill Parcells for not being present for team sprints drills and for not showing up for the team's mandatory hospital visits yesterday.

Earlier this year, Ross was fined for missing the team's curfew in pre-season activity. It is rumored that Zuriel Smith, who returned 16 kicks for 367 yards, an average of 22.9 per return, will resume the Cowboys special teams coverage as kick returnman. Ross had taken over the duties for Smith earlier this season.

Now that Ross is gone, the Cowboys anticipate Pete Hunter, in his second year out of Virginia Union, will take Ross' spot as the nickel cornerback, with Andrew Davison as the the sixth man. Davison is in his second year out of Kansas University.

In other roster notes, the Cowboys re-added RB Rashard Lee to the practice squad. Taking Ross' place on the roster will be RB Eric Bickerstaff. With starting tailback Troy Hambrick struggling, Bickerstaff is expected to get lots of playing time in the next four games. Meanwhile, Lee was awarded injury-settlement after having surgery on his knee during training camp this year.

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