Cowboys to cut veteran Pat Watkins

Veteran safety Pat Watkins, who was sidelined for most of training camp with a knee injury, was told by the Dallas Cowboys that he will be released as the team trims the roster to the league-mandated 75 players by Tuesday.

A pair of undrafted rookies, wide receiver Terrell Hudgins and tight end Scott Sicko, were officially released.

The Cowboys will put tight end John Phillips, who tore his ACL in the Aug. 8 preseason opener and will have surgery Tuesday, on injured reserve. Linebacker Stephen Hodge, who is recovering from microfracture knee surgery, will remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Watkins, whose release has yet to be made official, started 10 games and served as a core special teams player since being picked in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. He ranked second on the Cowboys with 18 special teams tackles last season and led them with 25 in 2007.

Watkins was expendable because of the emergence of undrafted rookie safeties Danny McCray and Barry Church. McCray appears capable of replacing Watkins on special teams, and the Cowboys believe that Church has more potential as a safety. McCray and Church would combine to make less than Watkins' $1.176 million salary.

Watkins missed 11 games over the last two seasons due to knee and neck injuries.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and tight ends coach John Garrett pursued Sicko after he said he intended to give up football when he wasn't drafted out of New Hampshire. Sicko suffered a concussion in the preseason opener that sidelined him for two weeks and didn't play in Saturday's game in Houston.

Hudgins, who broke several of Jerry Rice's Football Championship Subdivision career receiving records while at Elon, made some spectacular catches during training camp. However, he often struggled to get open and had no chance to crack the rotation at one of the Cowboys' deepest positions.

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