Francis Bernard must have thought he did enough to secure a spot on the Dallas Cowboys‘ 53-man roster. But, somehow, he didn’t.
The move comes as a surprise considering Bernard consistently flashed in what was for him a fantastic training camp. Working his way to first-string reps, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound defender notched two interceptions through the team’s first four practices, including a pick-six of starting quarterback Dak Prescott.
“Been belief he’d done enough to make 53-man roster; picked up playbook quickly, produced standout moments in camp. Likely came down to special teams,” Gehlken wrote.
The Utah and BYU product stood out to such a degree that Gehlken termed it a “bonafide shock” if he failed to secure a roster spot. His Cowboys defensive mates spoke of that as a certainty.
“I think he’s really taken off,” LB Leighton Vander Esch recently said of Bernard on 105.3 The Fan, via Sports Illustrated. “He’s a smart kid. He plays fast and obviously he’s made plays. He’s gotten an interception in the last two padded practices so I think he’s making a name for himself. And I think he’s gonna be awesome for our room. Pumped to have him with us. Like I said, he’s smart. He plays fast. He’s instinctual. He’s going to be huge on special teams for us and when he finds his time on the field, he’s going to do just fine.”
According to SI’s Mike Fisher, Dallas plans to re-sign Bernard to the practice squad, provided he sneaks through waivers unclaimed. Which is hardly a lock given his effort this summer.
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Projected LB Depth Chart
As final cuts continue to trickle in, the Cowboys will carry Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee as its starting ‘backers. Barring more last-minute surprises, the backups will consist of Joe Thomas, Luke Gifford, and Justin March — all incumbents from the 2019 season.
The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that Lee, allegedly battling a sports hernia, is likely to begin the regular season on injured reserve, designated to return. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis (ankle) also is a candidate for short-term IR.
Dallas needed to pink-slip 27 players to get down to 53. They are, as of this writing: QB Clayton Thorson; WRs Devin Smith, Jon’Vea Johnson, and Tevin Jones; RBs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua, TEs Charlie Taumoepeau and Cole Hikutini; OL Cody Wichmann, Pace Murphy, Wyatt Miller, Mitch Hyatt, Isaac Alarcón, Marcus Henry, and Adam Redmond; DL LaDarius Hamilton, Ron’Dell Carter, Joe Jackson, and Justin Hamilton; LB Francis Bernard; DBs Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Chris Westry, Luther Kirk, Deante Burton, and Saivion Smith.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL