Cowboys go light at tight end, corner

Updated: September 5, 2010, 12:29 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

The Dallas Cowboys made some interesting decisions regarding their 53-man roster, which was finalized on Saturday.

After releasing 20 players, including one from the 2010 draft, the Cowboys enter the regular season with just two tight ends and three cornerbacks on the roster.

Dallas elected to go with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett at tight end and keep undrafted rookie free agent Chris Gronkowski as an extra fullback with starter Deon Anderson.

Dallas could have kept a third tight end in Martin Rucker, but he was signed just two weeks ago and didn't have enough time to distinguish himself.

Another major decision surrounded wide receiver Sam Hurd, whom the team tried to trade in the last 48 hours. When a deal couldn't get completed, the Cowboys decided to keep him. Hurd, who led the team with 19 special teams tackles last season, has just 31 catches as he enters his fifth NFL season.

"I was never nervous," Hurd said of possibly leaving the team. "If I don't control it, why worry about it. It was in God's hands."

Hurd said his agent never approached him about taking a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys and, as far as he knows, his salary of $1.759 million remains intact.

The Cowboys made a surprise move in releasing veteran cornerback Cletis Gordon, who had an unofficial count of 10 interceptions in training camp but just one in the five preseason games.

When the Cowboys cut Gordon, it left them with just three cornerbacks: Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. They have two safeties, however, who could also play corner if necessary.

Alan Ball, the starting free safety, was drafted as a corner out of Illinois in 2007. Fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was drafted to play safety but was a cornerback at Division II Indiana, Pa., where he had two interceptions and four pass breakups in 11 games in 2009.

Rookie nose tackle Sean Lissemore, a seventh-round pick who battled a groin injury at the start of training camp and struggled at times, was a surprise addition to the team. Lissemore and rookie Josh Brent will back up All-Pro nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

Veteran Junior Siavii had a productive camp and there was a belief he would make the team. But Lissemore showcased himself in the final preseason game with half a sack and one quarterback pressure.

Sixth-round pick Jamar Wall, a cornerback from Texas Tech, was the only 2010 draft pick to be released.

Wall and released cornerback Bryan McCann, who played college ball at SMU, are candidates to be added to the Cowboys' practice squad. Travis Bright, a guard who was released, might also go back to the practice squad for a second consecutive year.

The Cowboys could start offering practice squad deals at 11 a.m. CT Sunday. The practice squad consists of up to eight players.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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