Predicting the 53-man Roster

Back in the day, when it came to training-camp predictions on the future makeup of the Cowboys' roster, I was a regular Nostradamus. I nailed it. Every summer. And now it can be told how I did it: I didn't. Dave Wannstedt and Norv Turner did it for me.

I hope Wannstedt and Turner don't mind me telling this truth now, a decade-and-a-half later. But it's true: After one week of camp, coaches pretty much knew who was in and who was out. The 53 was already determined. And maybe because of their kindness or maybe because of my begging, they'd guide me in crafting my lists.

I came off like an A-plus student of football. … even though it was Jimmy Johnson's right-hand men who were actually doing my homework.

Now it's time to do it again, time to predict the 2008 Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster. We don't have the benefit of any games yet, and we don't have the benefit of Wannstedt and Norv.

But I still like our chances. Here goes:

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters – Flozell Adams (left tackle), Kyle Kosier (left guard), Andre Gurode (center), Leonard Davis (right guard), Marc Colombo (right tackle). Backups – Joe Berger, Pat McQuistan, Doug Free, Cory Procter, James Marten.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter – Jason Witten. Backups – Tony Curtis, Martellus Bennett.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton. Backups -- Sam Hurd, Miles Austin, Isaiah Stanback, Danny Amendola.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Marion Barber. Backups -- Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, Deon Anderson (fullback).

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Tony Romo. Backup -- Brad Johnson

SPECIALISTS: Nick Folk (kicker), Mat McBriar (punter), L.P. Ladouceur (snapper).

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters – Chris Canty (end), Jay Ratliff (nose tackle or end), Marcus Spears (end), Tank Johnson (nose tackle). Backups -- Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- DeMarcus Ware (outside), Bradie James (inside), Zach Thomas (inside), Greg Ellis (outside). Backups -- Kevin Burnett, Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Spencer, Justin Rogers, Erik Walden.

SECONDARY: Starters -- Terence Newman (cornerback), Roy Williams (safety), Ken Hamlin (safety), Pacman Jones (cornerback). Backups -- Anthony Henry, Pat Watkins, Mike Jenkins Orlando Scandrick, Courtney Brown, Evan Oglesby.

A summary? Three points: 1) There is only a little bit of competition for top jobs, notably in a shuffle along the defensive line. 2) There are no more than three or four spots that are even up for grabs; it may take a couple of preseason games to sort out whether to go heavy with WRs or DBs. And 3) That looks like an extremely stout collection of 53 football players right there. Not dissimilar, in fact, to some of those 53-man rosters I used to predict so (ahem) accurately.

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