Yes, the Dallas Cowboys made the mandatory list of cuts on Tuesday to get down from 80 players to the mandatory 53, but there was plenty they still needed to do to get a clearer picture of what their actual roster would look like. Going into the NFL deadline, the Cowboys had several players still on the COVID/Reserve list -- most notably wide receiver CeeDee Lamb -- who didn't count against the active roster but would soon need to be activated, and there were several players set to head to injured reserve after the deadline had passed that did count toward it.
On Thursday, they made many of the expected moves, and they are as follows:
Returning from COVID/Reserve
CeeDee Lamb, WR
Carlos Watkins, DL
Remaining on COVID/Reserve
Connor Williams, OL
Noah Brown, WR
With a week remaining before the opener, the expectation is both Williams and Brown will be available, and that's key when considering Williams remains the starting left guard despite a failed experiment as a backup center in training camp and preseason. That said, the status of Williams and Brown will remain in doubt until they're removed from this list. Vaccinated players can return after showing no symptoms and providing two negative tests that are 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players are quarantined a mandatory 10 days. But even taking the latter into account versus when the first game is to be played, there should be ample time for them to return to practice, barring any sort of complication or setback.
Moved to injured reserve
Kelvin Joseph, CB (groin)
Neville Gallimore, DL (elbow)
Sean McKeon, TE (ankle)
Josh Ball, OT (ankle)
Malik Turner, WR (foot)
Francis Bernard, LB (hamstring)
Those moved to IR will be available to return to practice after three weeks and the Cowboys will have 21 days to activate them or revert them back to injured reserve. Joseph suffered a groin injury in the preseason finale while Gallimore's injury is the most damaging blow of the six players on this list, considering he's the team's starting 3-tech. In his stead will be rookie third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa, and fellow rookie third-round pick Chauncey Golston dodged IR by passing his physical on Tuesday after having been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list since the start of training camp.
With the above moves made, the Cowboys essentially move six players out and three players in, leaving three seats available that will likely go to eventually re-signing punter Bryan Anger (who was released to add quarterback Will Grier) and long snapper Jake McQuaide -- both of whom were released as procedural moves that gave Dallas room to maneuver before adding them back to the roster in a few days. The third spot belongs to running back Corey Clement for now, a former division rival two times over (Eagles and Giants) the Cowboys signed to the active roster on Wednesday.
They were able to re-sign tight end Jeremy Sprinkle to the practice squad, and that allows him to be activated for Week 1 in the absence of McKeon. Additionally, whenever they do activate Williams and Brown, they'll have to make two additional corresponding roster moves, assuming the count is at 53 when they're moved over.
It's all a matter of roster chess as the Cowboys ready for the Buccaneers and beyond, hoping to rebound in a major way from a disappointing 6-10 finish to the 2020 season that was largely fueled by a rabid injury bug.
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