Roster Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Here is an in-depth look at the New York Giants as the prepare for their season-opener at the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Eli Manning. Backups -- Curtis Painter, Ryan Nassib.
Despite struggles this summer, Manning should be fine. He was did not have both starting receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, together in any game. Painter beat out long-time backup David Carr by simply showing that he could move the offense regardless of who the other ten guys were on the field with him. Nassib, the rookie, is a long way from being ready.
RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- David Wilson. Backups -- RB Andre Brown (IR, designated to return), RB Da'Rel Scott, RB Michael Cox, FB Henry Hynoski.
Brown, their best pass protector and No. 2 back, broke the same leg that ended his season last year. Wilson has shown improvement in his ability to pass protect, but is he durable enough to be a full time back. Hynoski is about three months removed from knee surgery and did not play in the preseason..
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Brandon Myers. Backups - Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell.
The tight end group is a motley crew. Pascoe played out of position, filling in at fullback. Myers didn't get many chances in the passing game and when he did, he had a mixed showing, and as a run blocker he also struggled at the point of attack. Donnell and Robinson are both young but with appealing athleticism. Robinson, now dealing with a sprained foot, is more of the in line blocker while Donnell is a fullback/H-back type, similar to the role Pascoe usually holds.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz. Backups -- Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jr., Jerrel Jernigan.
The potential strength of the offense. Nicks has yet to log a complete season due to injuries and Cruz got his big payday after months of staying away from the team. Nicks and Cruz need each other to avoid double coverage. However, the growth of Randle as the third receiver could create a more dynamic group. Murphy was slowed by a leg injury toward the end of the preseason, but returned to practice in the final week.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Will Beatty, LG James Brewer, C Kevin Boothe, RG Chris Snee, RT Justin Pugh. Backups -- C David Bass, G/T David Diehl, C/G Jim Cordle, G/T Brandon Mosley.
Age and injuries finally started to catch up to this unit this summer, as starters Diehl (thumb) and Baas (knee) are dealing with physical issues. This paved the way for rookie Pugh, the team's first round pick, to come in as the starting right tackle. Boothe shifted to center, opening the way for Brewer to step in at left guard.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Justin Tuck, LDT Linval Joseph, RDT Cullen Jenkins, RDE Jason Pierre-Paul. Backups -- DE Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Damontre Moore, DE Justin Trattou, DT Shaun Rogers, DT Mike Patterson.
Talent aplenty here, but can they stay healthy? Biggest concern is at defensive end where Tuck has already missed about a week due to a hamstring strain. Moore, a talented rookie, missed the last three preseason games with a shoulder contusion. Pierre-Paul gradually worked back into the lineup after coming off PUP where he was while recovering from back surgery. Kiwanuka and Trattou are solid, smart players. Jenkins draws double team blocks and can move defensive end. Joseph is the steady elder statesmen while Rogers and Patterson have played lights out in preseason. Hankins, a rookie, improved quickly and is another big body to use in short yardage and goal line situations.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Spencer Paysinger, MLB Dan Connor, SLB Keith Rivers. Backups -- MLB Mark Herzlich, OLB Jacquian Williams, LB Odewale Ojomo.
The Giants went with only five linebackers, waiving Kyle (nephew of Brian) Bosworth, who will face them as a Dallas Cowboy in opener. They used their nickel and big nickel packages more than 50 percent of the time last year. That would minimize Connor as a liability in the middle. Rivers is the most athletic here, with sideline-to-sideline speed. Paysinger lacks speed and compensates with instinct. Herzlich is a hard worker but failed to keep starting three times.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Corey Webster, RCB Prince Amukamara, FS Ryan Mundy, SS Antrel Rolle. Backups -- CB Jayron Hosley, CB Terrell Thomas, CB Aaron Ross, CB Trumaine McBride, S Cooper Taylor.
Amukamara is now the star of this unit and is playing with confidence for the first time. Webster wants to rebound from an injury-filled 2012, but is slowed by groin and knee issues already. Hosley is inconsistent and still loses too many gambles. At safety, the team lost starter Stevie Brown to a torn ACL, but Mundy, the former Steeler makes a nice tandem with Rolle. Depth is a concern. Taylor, a rookie, is talented but his progress was hampered by a bad hammy.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Josh Brown, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KOR Michael Cox, PR Jayron Hosley.
Brown's big leg has worked as advertised, converting 13 of 15 field goal attempts in preseason and hitting ten touchbacks. Weatherford punted a lot in the preseason but didn't look as sharp as expected. Cox didn't show the breakaway speed that David Wilson did at kickoff returner, but he does have good acceleration and vision. Hosley is dealing with an ankle injury and was reliable, but not spectacular.

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