IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys made their final roster cuts Saturday, but the final 53 may not stay this way for long.
The Cowboys released 21 players including rookie free agent receiver Danny Amendola from Texas Tech, fellow receiver Mike Jefferson, third-string quarterback Richard Bartel of Grapevine and rookie linebacker Erik Walden, a sixth-round draft pick.
Interestingly, the Cowboys elected to keep just five receivers despite the injury issues with Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback. With the current roster, the Cowboys would practice with and take only two healthy receivers (Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton) to Cleveland for the Sept. 7 season opener.
Jefferson or Amendola seemed set to fill the sixth receiver spot simply out of necessity more than ability. The move could have been made because of the possibility Stanback (separated shoulder) might be ready to return for the opener.
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The roster will be tweaked today after Dallas late Saturday agreed to terms with their former special teams ace, defensive back Keith Davis, who was released by Miami last week.
There is also a chance Dallas could go after a veteran receiver, and quarterback Chris Simms is now available after being released Saturday by Tampa Bay.
Coach Wade Phillips apparently didn’t see enough from Bartel, who started the preseason finale against Minnesota, to keep him on the active roster and not expose him to waivers. Still, he will be a candidate to return to the practice squad for a second year if he clears waivers. Amendola is another candidate.
Dallas will go with just two quarterbacks on the roster (Tony Romo and Brad Johnson) for the third consecutive year. Bartel may have other options. Last year the Kansas City Chiefs attempted to sign him off the Cowboys’ practice squad late in the season, but he decided to stay, believing he had a better situation.
At linebacker, the Cowboys kept eight despite the injuries to Kevin Burnett and Anthony Spencer, both of whom are coming off minor knee surgeries in the preseason. Burnett, however, is expected to return to practice on Wednesday and possibly play against the Browns.
Two draft picks from last year that were on the bubble made the cuts in cornerback Alan Ball (a seventh-round pick last year) and tackle James Marten (third round). Both did little in training camp or preseason games to separate themselves and their status seemed shaky. They were also parts of positions the Cowboys went with heavy numbers, which could lead to the possibility of a player being dealt. They kept seven cornerbacks and 11 offensive linemen. Ball was believed to have been beaten out for the sixth cornerback spot by Evan Oglesby, who was a standout in training camp.
New guard Montrae Holland, in his sixth-year, was acquired in a trade with Denver on Thursday. Phillips kept 10 offensive linemen last year.
The Cowboys will put together their practice squad on Sunday and are expected to re-sign some of the players they released. The Cowboys may also be in the hunt for a trade partner.
Walden was the only one of six draft picks this year to be released. He contributed well on special teams in the preseason finale but struggled during training camp with his transition from college defensive end to outside linebacker.
Dallas also placed Larry Allen, who signed on Friday to retire as a Cowboy, on the reserved/suspended list to get down to 53. The Cowboys were obviously battling over tough decisions, as they didn’t complete their final cuts until just before the 5 p.m. deadline.
Here are the 21 players released:
WR Danny Amendola
TE Drew Atchison
NT Remi Ayodele
QB Richard Bartel
WR Mark Bradford
RB Alonzo Coleman
FB Julius Crosslin
S Dowayne Davis
DE Marcus Dixon
LB Tearrius George
T Ryan Gibbons
TE Rodney Hannah
WR Mike Jefferson
RB Keon Lattimore
T Cory Lekkerkerker (reached injury settlement)
WR Todd Lowber
LB Darrell Robertson
NT Junior Siavii
DE Marcus Smith
LB Tyson Smith
LB Erik Walden
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