The Tuna Top 40 By Rafael Vela Let’s begin the countdown… Bill Parcells uses his early camp to locate his best 40 players, 20 on offense and 20 on defense. He adds his specialists, usually a kicker, punter and snapper and then apportions his last 10 spots for special teams aces, developing young players or both. The top 40 system makes sense when you consider teams can only dress 45 players on game days plus a third QB. With this template in mind, let’s see if we can whittle the team down to the top 44 or 45 and venture some guesses on the final ten. Remember, these are the guys you would dress if this Saturday’s game was for keeps. Top 20 offense QBs (2) — Drew Bledsoe and Tony Romo; RBs (2) — Julius Jones and Marion Barber; TEs/F-backs (4) — Jason Witten, Anthony Fasano, Ryan Hannam, Lousaka Polite; WRs (4) — Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, one of Terrance Copper, Jamaica Rector or Sam Hurd; OTs (3) — Flozell Adams, Rob Petitti, Marc Columbo or Jason Fabini; Cs (2) — Andre Gurode, Al Johnson; Gs (3) — Kyle Kosier, Marco Rivera, Corey Proctor; That’s 20 players. Eighteen are firm. The only spots in that top 20 up for grabs, in my opinion, are the backup RT, where Colombo and Fabini are duking it out and the fourth receiver spot. You might also carry a third running back, but he would have to show skills as a kick returner to dress on game day. Top 20 Defense DE (4) — Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Chris Canty and Jason Hatcher; NT (2) — Jason Ferguson and perhaps Thomas Johnson or Montavious Stanley; OLB (4) — Greg Ellis, Al Singleton, Demarcus Ware, Kevin Burnett; ILB (4) — Bradie James, Akin Ayodele, Bobby Carpenter, Rocky Boiman; CB (4) — Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Aaron Glenn, Jacques Reeves; S (2) — Roy Williams, Keith Davis; I’m thin at safety. I may add Willie Pile here for depth and move Boiman to my specialist list. Backup nose tackle is by far the most uncertain position. Thomas Johnson shows flashes but plays better as a rusher than a run plugger. Stanley looks lost; he was run over in the morning drills and seems the draftee most likely to wind up on the practice squad. If Johnson doesn’t cut it, you’ll see Dallas scanning the waiver wires for a backup NT or perhaps trying to swap a surplus LB to get one. If I’m greedy and give the defense the third safety, I’m up to 41. I’ve got my kicker, snapper, punter and Drew Henson as my emergency QB. Voila! That’s 45. Your third QB doesn’t count against your offical 45, so you’ve still got a spot open. Do you keep a kickoff specialist? Mike Vanderjagt has yet to kick off during a camp drill. And who will the last eight be? Some rookies are easy — Pat McQuistan, Pat Watkins and Skyler Green make the cut. That’s 48. Dallas will keep a third RB, either Tyson Thompson or Keylon Kincade. Special teams skills will tell. That’s 49; Dallas will likely keep a fourth TE, either Tony Curtis or Sean Ryan. That’s 50; Dallas might keep another corner. Nate Jones, IMO, is the best option. That’s 51; The last two are tricky. If Dallas keeps a second kicker, they’ve got one spot let. Does a special teams/nickel LB like Ryan Fowler stick? Is this player on another NFL team’s roster at the moment? Lots of questions, and we haven’t factored injuries into the equation. In any case, it appears there are only three spots up for grabs in the top 40. Nine days into camp, that’s amazing.