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Cowboys keep WR Hurd, four undrafted rookies on roster

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys kept four undrafted rookies on their initial 53-man roster Saturday. Maybe having so many young finds made it easier for owner Jerry Jones to swallow the nearly $1.8 million salary due to backup wide receiver Sam Hurd.

Hurd's value on special teams apparently made him worth keeping him around, especially after the Cowboys traded wide receiver Patrick Crayton and his $2 million salary to the San Diego Chargers on Friday.

Hurd is at the back end of a Dallas receiving group led by starters Miles Austin and Roy Williams and first-round pick Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also are high on Kevin Ogletree, a second-year pro. That's it, though, as Jesse Holley and Manny Johnson were among 20 players released Saturday to reach the league-mandated deadline to set the 53-man roster.

Safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray, fullback Chris Gronkowski and offensive lineman Phil Costa were the rookie free agents who earned jobs.

Gronkowski's ability to play H-back allowed Dallas to keep just two tight ends, Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. Martin Rucker, Dajleon Farr and Jason Pociask were let go.

Nose tackle Junior Siavii, cornerback Cletis Gordon and linebackers Steve Octavien and Curtis Johnson are guys who played last season but aren't coming back.

Siavii was a solid backup to Jay Ratliff, but rookie Josh Brent beat him out. Gordon often was talked about by coach Wade Phillips for making plays in practice, while Octavien was among the better special-teams players. Dallas cut another key special-teamer, Pat Watkins, earlier in the week.

Other noteworthy cuts include cornerbacks Jamar Wall (the only member of this year's draft class not to make the team) and Bryan McCann, and running backs Herb Donaldson and Lonyae Miller.

Also cut were offensive linemen Will Barker, Travis Bright and Mike Tepper; defensive ends Marcus Dixon and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen; linebacker Brandon Sharpe and defensive back Teddy Williams.

Things could still change, though, even with Hurd, as the Cowboys look over the list of players cut by other teams.

The Cowboys also have their eight-man practice squad to fill. Many of those spots will go to young guys the team just cut, if they clear waivers.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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