Every preseason there were numerous threads about how the Cowboys should get rid of these guys, how they were taking up a roster spot unnecessarily. They were fringe players, posters claimed, who were never going to amount to anything.
And, by the way, I'm not excluding myself. This isn't a "I told you so". This is just a small tribute to the blue collar players that typically don't get the accolades. Quite the opposite.
Why are they still on the team? The Cowboys should cut them to make room for "________".
"They are only keeping Dalton until Blake returns."
"All Noah can do is special teams."
"Dorrance Armstrong can't get in the same zip code as the opponent's quarterback."
"Get a real backup QB. Cooper Rush is just a warm body."
There are two concepts that I think many Cowboys fans don't take into consideration.
The first is familiarity. The longer a player remains on a team then the more he knows his teammates and usually the coaches. They know the system. They know their plays and their role on the team. They go to practice every day with their teammates. They form bonds.
The second is constant improvement when it comes to the quality of their play, their physical conditioning, and football education. They get better through constant practice. They get stronger through conditioning programs monitored by their coaches. They learn and acquire new skills and techniques.
I would say that the difference between the "fringe" players that make it and the ones that don't are their dedication to constant improvement. Coaches often consider their attitude and willingness to do whatever their teams need them for whether it is special teams or their preparation in the event they are needed on the field.
With the start of training camps these guys were considered "bubble" players almost every preseason. However, they were also in the top 300 college players at some point, the cream of the crop. In high school they were perennial All-State or All-City, the best in their school, perhaps even in their school's history. These are proud athletes.
We enjoy getting our 1st round draft picks and watching them make large contributions to their teams. It's easy to have those expectations, that's why they were drafted in the 1st round.
However, what is a major attribute on teams that consistently win? It is their ability to find players in the lower rounds or rookie free agency that make positive contributions. The Cowboys seem to be succeeding in that category despite fan perceptions that tend to judge players as final products out of college.