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Cowboys walk tightrope with first round of camp roster cuts

The Dallas Cowboys pared down the roster with the first official round of training camp cuts on Tuesday but the moves presented questions left to answer

DALLAS — The first round of roster cuts in the NFL had to be made by Tuesday afternoon and the Dallas Cowboys were tasked with getting their roster down to 85 players. With the roster at 90 players through the first few weeks of camp, five players would need to be released or moved to injured reserve to comply with league rules.

It’s never a fun day for the guys on the fringe of making the roster. The Cowboys had a full slate of offseason workouts, training camp, and two exhibition games to evaluate which of those five unlucky players wouldn’t survive the first day of cutdowns, but at least they were able to make an informed decision.

The Cowboys wound up placing two players on injured reserve and released three more to get their roster down to 85.

Sewo Olonilua hurt his neck during the Hall of Fame Game and the running back was expected to miss significant time. Placing him on IR confirms that Olonilua’s neck injury was likely season-ending. Olonilua was the leading candidate to win the fullback role on the offense if they chose to keep one. 

Placing Olonilua on IR may also open a stable roster spot for someone else at another position. Even before the move, Dallas was likely to go thin at RB to keep an extra offensive lineman, cornerback or defensive lineman, which may now be the route the team takes.

Linebacker Anthony Hines was also injured, but his injury happened in the second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals last Friday night. Hines was an undrafted free agent signee who opted out of the 2020 college season; he wasn’t expected to make the roster.

Cornerback Kyron Brown was signed by the Cowboys when training camp began and was with the team for all of three weeks before he was cut, as was WR Brennan Eagles, who was also signed as an undrafted free agent back in May. 

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Eagles had one catch for 25 yards this preseason. As a local addition from the University of Texas, he had fans rooting for him, however, both he and Brown were considered longshots to make the team. 

The biggest surprise was CB Reggie Robinson’s inclusion to the list. Robinson had played in both preseason games and wasn’t listed on any injury report. The move to the injured reserve list ends the season for Robinson.

Nevertheless, Robinson’s injury might be a way to keep him around and stash for next year instead of exposing him to other teams. The Cowboys have added some solid depth at CB and there may not have been a place for Robinson, who was moved back to the position after a misguided year at safety. 

Robinson did play in five games in 2020 as a rookie and was a fourth-round selection last year, so the Cowboys might have a reason to try and keep him with the team. The injury might be real – a turf toe has been reported – but it doesn’t mean that the team isn’t using IR to keep Robinson around for the future.

None of the five players released today were going to be difference makers, but injuries took two possible 53-man roster inclusions out of the discussion. The next cutdown date is August 24, when the Cowboys will need to get down to 80 players. 

How do you feel the roster is shaping up for the Cowboys with the season just over three weeks away? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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