Cowboys' 53-man roster projection has three QBs, thanks to Cooper Rush

Cooper Rush's strong play in the preseason likely secured him a spot on the Cowboys' roster. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (3): Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Kellen Moore

Rush played too well in the preseason for the Cowboys to risk his being claimed off waivers, and he could be Prescott’s top backup come Week 1 against the New York Giants. If the Cowboys get in a crunch elsewhere, would they risk waiving Moore and trying to get him on the practice squad?

RUNNING BACK (3): Darren McFadden, Rod Smith, Alfred Morris

Ezekiel Elliott's suspension remains in limbo pending the result of his appeal, but let’s keep him off the roster for Week 1. It’s possible that he could play against the Giants if he goes to court, should he not see the suspension rescinded or reduced.

FULLBACK (1): Keith Smith

The converted linebacker has gone unopposed this offseason and could have a larger role in 2017.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown

Six receivers seemed a little much at the start of camp, but Brown has playmaking ability and can help on special teams. Switzer’s camp has been interrupted by a hamstring strain, but he should be the punt returner in Week 1.

TIGHT END (3): Jason Witten, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim,

Rico Gathers suffered a concussion in the final week in Oxnard, California, and remains in the concussion protocol. He could start the year on injured reserve. If Gathers is on the 53-man roster, it would be hard to see the Cowboys dressing four tight ends on game day anyway.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Tyron Smith, Jonathan Cooper, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, La'el Collins, Joe Looney, Byron Bell, Chaz Green

This group seems set with the top eight, but Green’s injury history could open up a spot for Emmett Cleary. Cooper almost wins the left guard job by default. Looney, Bell and Green all have position flexibility, which is a must for the backups.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea, DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, Cedric Thornton, Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Lewis Neal

With the suspensions to Damontre Moore (two games) and David Irving (four), this group will look different in a month. It’s also possible (maybe even likely) that the Cowboys look for help on the waiver wire or via low-end trades over the weekend.

LINEBACKER (7): Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, Anthony Hitchens, Mark Nzeocha

With Hitchens expected to remain on the 53-man roster while he recovers from a knee injury, the Cowboys need six healthy linebackers mostly for special teams purposes. Nzeocha gets the spot for now but they could look to the waiver wire for help as well. Smith and Durant will split the middle linebacker job in Hitchens’ absence with Durant playing in a lot of the sub packages but neither Smith or Durant is a special teams player.

CORNERBACK (6): Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Marquez White

Duke Thomas' knee and ankle injuries came at the wrong time for him because he was looking like he would make the roster. His spot goes to White, a draft pick. Awuzie has been slowed by a hamstring strain, but the Cowboys believe that he can help right away. Lewis practiced once all summer because of a hamstring strain.

SAFETY (4): Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, Xavier Woods

Frazier has done a nice job of showing that he can contribute on special teams and, if needed, on defense. Woods was slowed by a hamstring injury, but the Cowboys believe he has a strong upside. Veteran Robert Blanton could find his way into the mix, especially on special teams.

SPECIALISTS (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur

They are back for their fifth straight season.