NFC South: 2014 NFL Training Camp

Most significant move: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a leap of faith when they released kicker Connor Barth and decided to go with Patrick Murray. Barth was a proven veteran. Murray is an unknown. But Murray had an excellent preseason to win the job. Barth didn’t look quite as sharp and didn’t seem to have as much distance as he did before missing all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Barth also was scheduled to make more than $3 million this season. Murray will only cost the team $420,000.

Not so fast: A lot of people were under the assumption running back Jeff Demps would make the roster because the Bucs were so infatuated with his speed. But Demps was released Saturday. The former Olympic sprinter was given every opportunity as a running back and a return man, but he never was able to make things happen in space. Still, Demps has rare speed and the Bucs likely will try to get him signed to the practice squad, where he might be able to develop into something.

What’s next: The Bucs likely aren’t done with roster moves. They’re likely to bring in some players who were released elsewhere. Depth at linebacker, safety and on the offensive line still could be priorities.

Bucs’ cuts: Released WR Solomon Patton, RB Jeff Demps, QB Mike Kafka, DT Matthew Masifilo, DT Ronald Talley, K Connor Barth, TE Cameron Brate, DE Larry English, G Jamon Meredith, DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew, T Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gaitor, LB Ka'Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, LB Brandon Magee, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, DL Ronald Talley, S Major Wright and OL Jeremiah Warren.
Most significant move: Releasing cornerback Champ Bailey was the New Orleans Saints' biggest bombshell. But it ultimately shouldn't come as a shock. Bailey wasn't able to beat out fellow veteran Patrick Robinson for the No. 2 cornerback job. And for Bailey, it was probably a “starting job or bust” situation since he doesn't play special teams, and since the Saints are happy with their nickel/dime guys in safety Rafael Bush and cornerback Corey White. ... The big question mark is whether Robinson is the right choice. He had a nice camp at times, and the speedy athlete has shown as much big-play ability as anyone in the Saints' secondary during his turbulent five-year career. But Robinson has also battled injuries and inconsistency. If he can provide stability, New Orleans' secondary should he a huge strength.

Super loss: By cutting receiver Robert Meachem, the Saints now have only seven players remaining from their 2009 Super Bowl roster. They also parted ways with longtime veterans Lance Moore, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Jabari Greer and Roman Harper this year. But the writing was on the wall for Meachem when younger receiver Joe Morgan came back so strong from a knee injury. The two of them have a similar skill set as standout blockers and deep threats. I expect Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks and Joe Morgan to be the Saints' four active receivers when everyone is healthy. And while Stills nurses a quad injury that could keep him out in Week 1, the Saints still have promising young receiver Nick Toon available.

What's next: The Saints still have one glaring need since they went with "none of the above" in their kicker competition. Neither Shayne Graham nor Derek Dimke was consistent enough to lock down the job. I'm perfectly fine with that, especially when you consider the experienced veterans who are now available (Ryan Succop, Alex Henery, Connor Barth, Jay Feely, Rob Bironas, plus a number of young guys who had solid camps elsewhere). The question, however, is whether the Saints can develop trust in a new guy quickly enough. The Saints have had an itchy trigger finger regarding kickers over the years. So what happens if the guy they choose misses once or twice in September? ... To make room for the next kicker, the Saints will likely place either fullback Erik Lorig or linebacker Khairi Fortt on injured reserve -- possibly with a designation to return.

Saints moves: Terminated contracts of CB Champ Bailey, OLB Keyunta Dawson, K Shayne Graham, FB Greg Jones, WR Robert Meachem, OT Thomas Welch. Waived C Matt Armstrong, CB Derrius Brooks, WR Brandon Coleman, ILB Todd Davis, K Derek Dimke, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Charles Hawkins, TE Nic Jacobs, G Marcel Jones, WR Seantavious Jones, OT Tavon Rooks, RB Derrick Strozier, NT Lawrence Virgil, CB Trevin Wade, S Pierre Warren, T/G Jason Weaver.
Most significant move: This has to be the release of guard Chris Scott. He started eight games last season and started the last two preseason games at right guard with rookie Trai Turner nursing a groin injury. This sends a message that Turner is ready to start the opener at Tampa Bay. Conditioning has been an issue for Scott, but coach Ron Rivera told me on Wednesday that Scott had worked himself into a good position when I asked if he could win a starting job. The release shows how much the Panthers like guard Andrew Norwell and the confidence they have in Fernando Velasco to play center and guard.

Not King for this day: Wide receiver Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt were mentioned by general manager Dave Gettleman as young players they'd like to get a good look at when they released Steve Smith. McNutt didn't make the first cut and now King, who at one point appeared to be fourth or fifth on the depth chart, is gone.

No pick for Barner: The Philadelphia Eagles waived injured running back Kenjon Barner, meaning Carolina won't get the conditional seventh-round pick they negotiated in the trade. Barner had to make the team's 46-man active list for at least the first four games for the Panthers to get the pick.

Alexander on reserve/suspended: DE Frank Alexander, suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, was placed on the reserve/suspended list. He is expected to return to the 53-man roster (depth charts will be updated shortly) after the Week 4 game at Baltimore.

What's next: Look for Gettleman to keep a close eye on the waiver wire for a wide receiver/return specialist. As much as Rivera says he likes undrafted rookie wideout Philly Brown returning punts, the drops have to make him nervous. There are quite a few interesting players available, including Jets 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill.

Panthers moves: Cut -- LB Denicos Allen, CB Carrington Byndom, G Derek Dennis, CB James Dockery, LB Adarius Glanton, WR Tavarres King, S Robert Lester, WR Marcus Lucas, OT Andrew McDonald, S Tom Nelson, DT Drake Nevis, RB Darrin Reaves, DT Micanor Regis, LB D.J. Smith, CB Josh Thomas, DT Casey Walker, FB Michael Zordich, OG Chris Scott. Waived/injured -- T Kevin Hughes. Waived/injured settlement -- TE Mike McNeil, S Anderson Russell. Reserve/suspended -- DE Frank Alexander.
Most significant move: From a draft perspective, the biggest surprise was the Falcons cutting ties with fifth-round pick Ricardo Allen out of Purdue. The rookie cornerback didn't do much during the preseason, but you figured the Falcons would keep him around regardless. Obviously the coaches felt they needed more veteran experience going into the season, which is why Josh Wilson and Javier Arenas will back up starters Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and likely top nickel Robert McClain. Allen's status means both of the team's fifth-round picks from this season won't be on the 53-man roster. The other, linebacker Marquis Spruill, was placed on injured reserve after ACL surgery.

Wild card: Waiving defensive tackle Travian Robertson was somewhat surprising, considering how well he played during training camp. The Falcons no doubt are counting on second-round pick Ra'Shede Hageman to be more consistent along the defensive line during the regular season after an up-and-down start. They also must feel as if veteran Corey Peters won't have any setbacks coming off last year's Achilles' tear, although Peters did not play during the preseason. Also, the Falcons kept rookie center James Stone and released offensive tackle Terren Jones although it seemed like having more depth at tackle was a more pressing need. Some would argue that guard Harland Gunn also deserved to be kept ahead of Stone.

What’s next: The Falcons might have to consider putting in waiver claims if they feel it could help upgrade the roster. The two positions that stand out are at pass-rusher and inside linebacker. The Falcons cut ties with two inside linebackers in Pat Angerer and rookie seventh-round pick Yawin Smallwood. Offensive tackle and safety might also be a need. Of course, the Falcons have to formulate their practice squad, with guys such as Allen, rookie receiver Bernard Reedy, and rookie outside linebacker Jacques Smith as prime candidates. Reedy was a favorite to stick on the roster, but the Falcons obviously valued the special-teams ability of veteran receivers Eric Weems and Courtney Roby.

Falcons moves: Waived: WR Jeremy Ebert, WR Bernard Reedy, OT Terren Jones, OG Harland Gunn, S Sean Baker, TE Mickey Shuler, CB Ricardo Allen, OLB Jacques Smith, DT Travian Robertson; DE Nose Eguae, FB Maurice Hagens, CB Jordan Mabin, WR Freddie Martino, S Kimario McFadden, TE Jacob Pedersen, OL Adam Replogle, DT Donte Rumph, LB Yawin Smallwood; Released: LB Pat Angerer, OL Pat McQuistan, RB Josh Vaughan; Waived/injured WR Geraldo Boldewijn (hamstring).
METAIRIE, La. -- Although the New Orleans Saints haven’t made any official announcement, it is apparent that veteran Jonathan Goodwin has won the starting center job over Tim Lelito.

Lelito
lastname
Goodwin
Lelito said that is what he thinks from talking with coaches and reading the tea leaves. Though Goodwin refused to get ahead of himself, he said he did take it as a good sign that he was held out of the preseason finale along with several other veteran starters, while Lelito played in all four quarters.

"The positive thinking side of me would take it as a good sign," Goodwin said.

Lelito is thinking positive as well, though. Although the second-year pro wasn’t able to take over the job this summer, he still loves his position as a backup center and guard behind three veteran Pro Bowlers.

"I’m excited. I’m probably in the best position out of any young offensive lineman in the entire NFL," Lelito said following Thursday night’s game. "Because Ben Grubbs, Jon Goodwin and Jahri Evans, that’s probably the best three interior that you’re ever gonna see. And then you got (Zach) Strief out at right tackle, who should probably have a couple Pro Bowls himself. ...

"Who knows where I’m gonna play in the future, center or guard? But I’m just learning from Jon and Ben and Jahri, just trying to get better."

Believe it or not, Goodwin feels like he is still getting better in his 13th NFL season, as well. Last week, Goodwin talked about how he thinks this was his best training camp yet in his career spent with the New York Jets, Saints, San Francisco 49ers and back to the Saints. He reiterated that on Friday.

"A lot of guys hold on too long, and I don’t want to do that,” Goodwin said. “But I really felt like I could still play this game, and I think this last month has proven that."

The Saints should be feeling awfully positive about the center position, as well.

Nobody won this job by default. Goodwin's fountain-of-youth performance probably exceeded expectations. And they also must feel comfortable that Lelito is capable of stepping in at any of their interior line positions if needed this season.

Carolina Panthers' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
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Examining the Carolina Panthers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Webb looked expendable until Newton suffered a fractured rib in the third preseason game against New England. Coach Ron Rivera was fairly adamant the Panthers will keep three quarterbacks until it is clear Newton is healthy -- and maybe longer.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Whittaker emerged as the fourth back after the trade of Kenjon Barner to Philadelphia. Darrin Reaves still could figure into the mix, but with three quarterbacks, that doesn't appear likely now.

RECEIVERS (6)

This became clearer when Tiquan Underwood, Kealoha Pilares and Toney Clemons were released. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers picked up a receiver/kick returner off waivers after final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
Mike McNeill was signed to a two-year deal early in free agency, but with the emergence of Williams and a nagging knee injury, he becomes expendable. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers kept five tight ends at what has become the deepest position outside of the defensive front. That likely would mean eight linemen instead of nine.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The key here is flexibility, which might mean eight instead of nine if the Panthers choose to keep five tight ends. Williams and Chandler can play tackle or guard. Turner can play guard and backup center. Folkerts and Velasco can play center and guard. Undrafted rookie tackle David Foucault appears to be the odd man out.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

As I continue to say, don't forget defensive end Frank Alexander. He has had a great preseason, earning Rivera's vote as the MVP of camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But he will be suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He will return to the 53-man roster in October.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Again, flexibility is key. Blackburn, who missed the past two preseason games with a back injury, can step in and replace Kuechly if he ever had to come off the field. He's more dependable than Klein there. Many of these players will be on special teams. D.J. Smith could figure into the mix.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The starters appear set in Cason and White. Benwikere and Godfrey will share the nickel spot. Norman is having another good preseason. This makes Josh Thomas the odd man out.

SAFETIES (4)

Flip a coin between Russell and Robert Lester for the final spot. As insurance, the Panthers are working safety-turned-cornerback Godfrey back at safety some. Godfrey's versatility to do both allows the Panthers to go with one less defensive back and keep three quarterbacks. The plan for fourth-round pick Tre Boston likely will be injured reserve or waived injured and then re-signed and placed on the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These positions are set, barring an injury.
Examining the New Orleans Saints' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
All summer, I predicted that a tie-breaker for the backup QB job would go to Griffin because of his long-term potential and the fact that it would allow the Saints to keep only two quarterbacks. But in the end, I don't think it will come down to a tie-breaker. McCown played ahead of Griffin in all four preseason games, and ultimately played better throughout the course of those four games. I still think the Saints will keep Griffin because they like his long-term potential, even though it's not ideal to keep three quarterbacks on the roster.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

I'm assuming at this point that fullback Erik Lorig will at least begin the season on injured reserve with a leg injury that has kept him completely absent from practice thus far. However, I don't know that for a fact. The Saints could also decide to save a roster spot for Lorig or place him on short-term injured reserve, designated for a return. In the meantime, I'm sticking with Johnson over veteran Greg Jones as his replacement.

RECEIVERS (6)

I think Morgan has vaulted himself ahead of both Toon and Meachem in the pecking order this preseason based on both playing time and performance. That puts Meachem in jeopardy since he and Morgan have similar skill sets (excellent blockers and deep threats). But I'm sticking with six receivers since Stills' quad injury might keep him out in Week 1. ... Rookies Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones seem more like practice-squad candidates.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

I still like undrafted rookie Nic Jacobs' potential as a massive blocker, but the practice squad seems a more likely fit for him.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

No change here after the preseason finale. I'm giving Jones the slight edge over Senio Kelemete for that final roster spot because of his versatility as a guard/tackle and because he seemed to play a little better recently. It's very close, though, and it wouldn't be a shock for them both to make the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

No changes here, either. Veteran backup Brandon Deaderick has played well at both tackle and end this summer, so he's absolutely a good bet to crack the roster. But I think the Saints have enough depth with their six returning players.

LINEBACKERS (9)

Edebali is a new addition to this list after the Saints released Victor Butler and Kevin Reddick earlier in the week. The German-born undrafted rookie has made his mark both on special teams and as a pass rusher this summer. The only reason it took me this long to add him to this list was because the Saints were so loaded at linebacker. But that's less of an issue now. I also left off rookie Khairi Fortt, assuming he'll get the "injury redshirt" treatment.

CORNERBACKS (5)

No changes here. Trevin Wade and rookie Brian Dixon are possibilities. But now that these five guys are all healthy, there might not be room for anyone else on the roster.

SAFETIES (5)

Undrafted rookie Pierre Warren made one last compelling case with an interception and a nice open-field tackle in Thursday's preseason finale. But I'm still barely leaving him off the list. That could change if Ball's unspecified injury is serious enough to land him on injured reserve.

SPECIALISTS (3)

The kicker battle is still too close to call. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints go with Graham or Derek Dimke or consider other options cut elsewhere. But I'm sticking with Graham because Dimke didn't do enough to clearly outshine him this summer. ... Dimke was the only one who got a chance to play in Thursday's preseason finale (making field goals from 49 and 23 yards and missing one from 54 that was nullified by a penalty). But coach Sean Payton explained that the plan was for Dimke to kick in the first half and Graham to kick in the second half. The Saints just didn't have any opportunities in the second half.
Examining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
The Bucs are content to go with two quarterbacks.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

Rookie Charles Sims should return from injury around midseason.

RECEIVERS (6)

Patton appears likely to make the roster as the return man. Herron has come on strong after a rocky start to camp.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

The trade of Tim Wright saved Stocker's job.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

After the trade for Mankins, the offensive line suddenly is a lot more solid.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Solomon and English have played well and that could mean the end of the road for Da'Quan Bowers.

LINEBACKERS (6)

The Bucs still could bring in a linebacker from outside for depth.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Jenkins has been hurt most of the preseason, but his roster spot is safe.

SAFETIES (4)

The Bucs believed this position was deep enough to trade away Kelcie McCray last week.

SPECIALISTS (3)

DePaola edges out Jeremy Cain out for the job as long snapper.

Atlanta Falcons' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:00
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Examining the Atlanta Falcons' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
You can't ignore the way Yates played in the preseason finale at Jacksonville, completing 15 of 20 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. It was a backup-worthy performance. Now, the Falcons will have to decide whether to keep three quarterbacks or take a chance of losing Sean Renfree with hopes of keeping him on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

Should be interesting to watch this group develop. Whatever happens, Smith proved himself worthy of more touches with an outstanding preseason. Let's see if he is truly incorporated into the game plan, as promised.

RECEIVERS (6)

Here is my thought: As much as it would be great to see undrafted rookie Bernard Reedy make the 53-man roster, the Falcons have to think special teams here. Weems and Roby are guys willing to throw their bodies all over the field to make a tackle or secure a block. And with as disastrous as special teams were this preseason, the Falcons need strong contributions from guys like Weems and Roby. Reedy ends up on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Pascoe wins the backup role for his blocking, but Mickey Shuler put up one heck of a fight. A concussion kept Shuler out of the most important preseason game and thus, gave Pascoe a little more advantage.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

Holmes should be set as the starting right tackle after a strong preseason. Some of Konz's mistakes in the preseason finale make me wonder if rookie James Stone might get serious consideration as insurance at center.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)

I really, really want to put Travian Robertson on this list. Seriously. But something tells me he is going to be one of the toughest decisions in the room. We will see how it unfolds.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

It was a tough battle between rookies Starr and Jacques Smith, but Smith likely hurt his cause by being ejected for unnecessary roughness in the third preseason game.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)

Still believe Shembo will grab a starting role over Bartu sooner than later. Veteran Pat Angerer doesn't make the cut.

CORNERBACKS (5)

Although Wilson hasn't been spectacular, the Falcons need experienced cornerbacks to go up against some of these high-powered, multiple-receiver offenses they will have to face. That is why McClain, Wilson, and Arenas need to be part of the defensive rotation as extra defensive backs.

SAFETIES (5)

Baker was added here just in case Lowery and Southward have lingering concussion issues. Both missed time this preseason because of concussions, and Lowery saw his 2013 season end prematurely because of a concussion.

SPECIALISTS (3)

As long as these three guys are just doing their jobs, everything should be fine.
NEW ORLEANS -- For a long time this summer, New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Morgan talked about taking "baby steps" in his recovery from a 2013 knee injury. He didn’t even begin practicing until training camp.

Ponder
Morgan
Lately, however, Morgan has been in a dead sprint.

No Saints receiver has stood out more during the past three games than Morgan, who caught another four passes for 33 yards in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

He appears to have gone from the roster bubble to possibly even starting in Week 1 if Kenny Stills is still nursing a quad injury.

Morgan didn’t want to get ahead of himself, saying only that he thinks he’s done enough to prove he belongs on a roster somewhere in the NFL, whether in New Orleans or elsewhere since the decision is out of his hands.

But he did admit that these past few weeks have felt great following a long rehab process. Morgan has never specified all the details of his knee injury, but he said it was more than just an ACL tear and required two surgeries.

"Honestly, I’m excited, I’m confident. I mean, it’s been a long year. It’s been really trying. I’ve been through a lot," Morgan said. "So to be able to come out and even do a little bit has been truly a blessing."

Morgan’s best catch Thursday came on a 16-yard crossing route during the opening touchdown drive. And in some ways, it was even better than one of his classic deep catches.

Morgan said he has worked hard to prove that he can be used on short and intermediate routes in addition to just using his speed to run deep (which became his signature while catching 10 passes for 379 yards two years ago).

Morgan is also a standout blocker, which is why coach Sean Payton stressed recently that the Saints don’t consider him a "one-trick pony."

"I think they were just trying to mess up my average a little bit," Morgan joked of his short and intermediate catches Thursday. "But to be serious, it is important. That's one thing I’ve been harping on since I’ve been here. ... That just shows I’m capable of running the entire route tree."

Saints Camp Report: Day 22

August, 26, 2014
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METAIRIE, La. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
  • Saints kickers Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke both stumbled a bit during a windy practice Tuesday. Based on the unofficial consensus from media members, they each missed two field goals out of an estimated seven attempts. Neither kicker has been consistent enough to lock down the job this summer, but they’ve both been solid in preseason games (the only miss coming on Graham’s missed 33-yard extra point in Week 1). And coach Sean Payton continued to speak highly of both contenders. “I say this: Both of them are going to be kicking this season. I think other teams see us as a place that has a kicker possibly that is good enough to play for them,” Payton said.
  • Another position battle seems close to being decided. Center Jonathan Goodwin has continued to take snaps with the starters in practice all week after starting each of the past two preseason games. Goodwin has played very well this summer, calling it the best camp he’s had in 13 years. But Payton hasn’t conceded anything yet in Goodwin’s battle against second-year pro Tim Lelito. “We will see where that’s headed, but we are getting pretty good consistent play (from both), and that is encouraging,” Payton said Monday.
  • Cornerback Patrick Robinson had a nice practice with a pass breakup in the end zone during team drills and a stripped ball in 7-on-7, among other highlights. Payton revealed that it was a hamstring injury that had limited Robinson earlier in camp. But he said he’s encouraged by his progress. Robinson certainly looks like the front-runner to start opposite Keenan Lewis in Week 1 -- though veteran Champ Bailey has also looked solid in his return from a foot injury.
  • The offensive standout during Tuesday’s practice was probably receiver Joe Morgan, who made a diving catch of a deep pass from Drew Brees that hung up in the air during a two-minute drill late in practice. Morgan sure looks like he has a good beat on a roster spot this year and could be on the field in Week 1 -- especially if Kenny Stills remains out with a quad injury.
  • Stills, safeties Rafael Bush and Marcus Ball, linebacker Khairi Fortt and fullback Erik Lorig did not participate in Tuesday’s practice, though Ball made his first appearance in nearly a week as he watched from the sideline. Cornerback Trevin Wade was limited. Receiver Marques Colston appeared to wave himself out during a set of team drills late in practice, then he chatted with a trainer before watching the rest of practice. He didn’t appear to be dealing with anything significant, though.
  • That’s a wrap for training camp. The Saints are scheduled to hold a walk-through that’s closed to the media Wednesday before playing their final preseason game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
Most significant move: The team released Eric Page, who handled the return duties last year. This is a pretty clear sign that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go with undrafted rookie Solomon Patton as their primary return man. Page was reliable but unspectacular. Patton has the potential to be more explosive.

Surprise, surprise: Most fans thought wide receiver Tommy Streeter would make it to the final cut and maybe even make the roster. That's because Streeter had flashed promise early in camp and caught a touchdown pass in the first preseason game. But Streeter’s shot at a roster spot was doomed because he didn’t have the tools or experience to play regularly on special teams.

What’s next: The Bucs have to trim their roster to 53 players by Saturday afternoon.

Bucs' cuts: Released OT Matt Patchan, OT J.B. Shugarts, CB Deveron Carr, WR Tommy Streeter, LS Jeremy Cain, DT Euclid Cummings, G Jace Daniels, WR Skye Dawson, OL Jason Foster, DE Ryne Giddins, G R.J. Mattes, WR Eric Page, DE Chaz Sutton, QB Alex Tanney and FB Ian Thompson. Placed CB Danny Gorrer on injured reserve. Claimed CB Marc Anthony and G Jeremiah Warren off waivers.
Most significant move: Releasing linebacker Victor Butler was a small surprise, but a huge shame. I was one of many analysts who thought the pass-rush specialist could have a huge impact when he joined the New Orleans Saints last year, following defensive coordinator Rob Ryan from Dallas. Unfortunately, Butler missed all of last season with a torn ACL, then he missed three weeks of training camp this year with an ankle injury. In the meantime, the Saints continued to develop two other breakout pass-rushers in Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. Hopefully Butler can get healthy and get another opportunity somewhere, because he’s an energetic, well-liked guy who showed a ton of promise before the injuries.

One-year wonders: I was equally surprised to see the Saints release second-year linebacker Kevin Reddick, who had been a mainstay on all of their special teams units last season and this preseason. But it goes to show how much depth the Saints have at linebacker. This probably guarantees that guys such as Keyunta Dawson and Kyle Knox will make the team and maybe open up a spot for undrafted rookie Kasim Edebali. ... Cornerback Rod Sweeting also got cut after spending all of last season on the roster as an undrafted rookie. And 2013 sixth-round pick Rufus Johnson Jr. got waived as well -- less surprising after both had fallen behind in the pecking order throughout the summer.

What’s next: Two of the most compelling battles that will be decided by week’s end are at backup quarterback (Luke McCown vs. Ryan Griffin) and kicker (Shayne Graham vs. Derek Dimke). It’s starting to look more and more like McCown will win the backup job. If that happens, the Saints will probably keep three quarterbacks since they like Griffin’s long-term potential. ... I don’t anticipate any more veteran surprises, but you can never rule them out. If I had to make my final roster projection right now, I’d have four guys battling for the last three spots (McCown, Edebali, safety Marcus Ball and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick).

Saints' cuts: LB Victor Butler, LB Kevin Reddick, DE Rufus Johnson Jr., CB Rod Sweeting, S Ty Zimmerman, DE George Uko, WR Andy Tanner (injured), QB Logan Kilgore, TE Travis Beckum, OT Manase Foketi, OT Ty Nsekhe (injured).
Most significant move: Carolina thought so much of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood in free agency that it gave him a two-year deal that included a $300,000 signing bonus. The hope was he would replace Ted Ginn Jr. as the speed receiver and possibly double as a return specialist. It never happened. Underwood continued to show the inconsistencies as a receiver that have plagued him throughout his career. For every good catch he made in practice, he had at least one drop, and he was cut for the ninth time in his career.

Wild card: Wide receiver Marvin McNutt was mentioned as a young player the Panthers wanted to get a good look at when they released Steve Smith in March. He never was a factor in being among the top six. Kealoha Pilares was listed as the No. 1 kickoff returner halfway through training camp in Spartanburg, but he never did anything as a receiver to justify wasting a spot on the roster.

What's next: You'd think the Panthers would scour the waiver wires looking for a return specialist who also can play wide receiver. Not so quick. Coach Ron Rivera says he likes undrafted rookie Philly Brown as a returner and sees potential in the former Ohio State star as a receiver. Brown has the speed the Panthers were looking for in Underwood, and he'll cost a lot less. That being said, I still wouldn't be surprised to see the Panthers take a shot at somebody when final cuts are made.

Panthers moves: Released -- WR Tiquan Underwood, WR Toney Clemons, P Jordan Gay, DT Linden Gaydosh, DE Alex Hall, T Oscar Johnson, WR Marvin McNutt, LB Anthony Morales, WR Kealoha Pilares, DE Craig Roh. PUP -- WR De'Andre Presley. IR -- QB Matt Blanchard, TE D.C. Jefferson, C Kevin Matthews.

 
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas said Monday he violated a team rule, which resulted in him being held out of Saturday’s preseason game at Buffalo.

Casillas
Casillas
Casillas wouldn’t go into detail about the rule he violated. But he did imply that a miscommunication caused him to not be somewhere at the proper time.

"That’s basically what it was," Casillas said. "If anybody knows me you know my track record speaks for itself. I’m not a person that violates a code of conduct or anything like that. It’s something that happened. I take full responsibility for everything that I do on the field and off the field. I think it was handled appropriately. Me and (coach) Lovie (Smith) talked it out and I’m back to work and looking to get better."

Casillas did not make the trip to Buffalo, and Danny Lansanah started in his place at strongside linebacker.

"I don’t really think it was that big of an issue," Casillas said. "Of course, the team did. It’s understandable. I made a mistake, a bad mental decision on my behalf. It happens. I’m not perfect. I try to do things the right way here like I’ve always done in my career. I made a mistake and it got dealt with."

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