NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Training Camp

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the third consecutive year, the St. Louis Rams look like they will be the youngest team in the NFL.

According to a yearly study from after team's trim their rosters to their initial 53 players, the Rams once again have the youngest team in the league with an average age of 25.09.

In the past three years, the Rams have clearly been the league's youngest team, but what's interesting is they haven't exactly been older in consecutive years despite sticking to their youth movement.

When Rams coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead took over in 2012, they cleaned house and made it clear they aren't afraid to roll with young players in prominent positions. That first year, they went from one of the league's oldest team to the youngest at an average age of 25.32 years.

They stuck to the plan last year and were actually younger with an average age of 24.96 years. They are a little older this year, but not as old as they were in 2012.

Regardless, there is something to be said for the Rams having a plan and sticking to it. There are no awards for being the youngest team in the league, but a lot of franchises pay lip service to the idea of building through the draft then panic and change the plan when things don't go well.

It's a bit easier for the Rams to stick to the plan with an experienced coach like Fisher in charge, but it should also be clear that youth is no longer an excuse for this team.

The Rams are young by design, but they also have a lot of players with plenty of playing experience. In fact, the Rams might only have one rookie -- cornerback E.J. Gaines -- in the starting lineup on opening day, and if they do, it's because of an injury to certain starter Trumaine Johnson.

Snead likes to refer to the mistakes of his young team as "spilling milk" and has said he hopes that two years of spilling milk leads to much less in 2014.

It will have to if the Rams' plan to break through this season is to come to fruition.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers started calling him "The Sackmaster" after his three-sack performance against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 16.

The Green Bay Packers' trainers dubbed him "Shakespeare" because they said all he does is make plays.

And then in Friday night's preseason finale, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy dubbed him "LeBron" after he had to come out of the game because he started to cramp up.

By Saturday, you could just call Jayrone Elliott an NFL player, and that would be just fine with him.

[+] EnlargeJayrone Elliott
AP Photo/Scott KaneGreen Bay Packers linebacker Jayrone Elliott finished the preseason with five sacks.
The outside linebacker from Toledo was one of two undrafted rookies to make the Packers’ roster. Defensive tackle Mike Pennel of Colorado State-Pueblo was the other.

When cut-down day came and went without a phone call from anyone in the Packers' personnel department, Elliott reported for the scheduled team meeting at 2 p.m., and it was all business. After three hours of meetings, Elliott had no plans to celebrate his new status as a bona fide NFL player.

"No, I've got a game Thursday, so tomorrow is our Wednesday," Elliott said Saturday evening. "We've got to get ready for Seattle."

Elliott likely solidified his spot on the Packers' roster with his fifth sack of the preseason on Friday against the Kansas City Chiefs. No one in the preseason recorded more sacks than the Packers' 6-foot-3, 255-pound rookie outside linebacker.

If he needed one last push, it came against the Chiefs.

Unlike his previous four sacks which came against backups who got released in the final cuts, Elliott had no trouble making plays against a starter. Working against the Chiefs' top right tackle Donald Stephenson, Elliott used a power move to sack Chase Daniel in the first quarter. One play earlier, Elliott showed his versatility by using a speed move to beat Stephenson to the inside. The third-year pro, who has 14 regular-season starts in his first two seasons, had no choice but to hold Elliott, and he was flagged for it.

There were times when Elliott wondered whether this day would come. He got only six snaps in the preseason opener and eight the next week.

"A couple of times it crossed my mind, because I thought I was doing everything I can to find some reps, and then some days you wouldn't get any reps," Elliott said. "Some days I got down on myself, but there were certain veterans that helped me pick my head up, guys like Jarrett Boykin, Andy Mulumba and Morgan Burnett. So I just had to stay around the vets as much as possible and keep my spirits up."

He tweeted that Saturday was like his draft day and posted a video on Instagram, but then it was back to business after briefly contemplating his journey and thinking back to earlier this offseason, when most veterans around the locker room did not even know his name and called him by his uniform number 91.

So what's next for Elliott?

"The same thing that got me here," he said. "Just go out every day and try to better myself and become a smarter football player. I know it seems like I made it, but you can still be cut at any time. You've still got to attack every day like it's your last, and you've still got to have that same chip."
Most significant move: Linebacker Marcus Benard was squeezed out because of the numbers game, but he has been an effective pass-rusher during his time in Arizona. He's also had a knack for getting his hands on the football, which is something Cardinals coach Bruce Arians covets. He would've provided depth behind John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor, but Benard's roster spot went to a rookie.

LBU in AZ: Rookie linebacker Glenn Carson nearly had an interception Thursday night against San Diego, and even though he didn't come down with it, it was enough to keep him on the roster. Carson was among six outside linebackers kept and joined the NFL's active sack leader John Abraham in the group. Lorenzo Alexander was officially listed as an outside linebacker, which added depth to that group.

Teddy for Walt: Rookie Walt Powell was kept on the 53-man roster, a move that ended up being mildly surprising because the Cardinals kept just four cornerbacks. Powell finished training camp strong and looked impressive as a backup kick returner. With six receivers, Powell might lose the numbers game on Sundays but he's a viable backup.

What's next: The roster, as it is likely, won't be the same on Sunday or Monday or even for Week 1. Arizona might look to improve a few positions, including depth at both linebacker and defensive line -- meaning a rookie such as Carson might not be safe just yet -- and tackle.

Cardinals moves: RB Zach Bauman, LB Marcus Benard, C Philip Blake,LB Jonathan Brown, WR Dan Buckner, C John Estes, DT Bruce Gaston, WR Brittan Golden, TE Andre Hardy, CB Jimmy Legree, CB Bryann McCann, T Kelvin Palmer, T Nate Potter, RB Jalen Parmele, DT Isaac Sopoaga, G/C Anthony Steen, S Curtis Taylor, LB Adrian Tracy, DT Christian Tupou, S Anthony Walters, CB Eddie Whitley, CB Teddy Williams.
Most significant moves: Safety Brandian Ross was a surprise cut. He started 13 games the past season, and he had 75 tackles. The Oakland Raiders re-signed him in May. He was expected to be a key backup this year. The Ross cut meant seventh-round pick Jonathan Dowling (acquired with the pick acquired in the Terrelle Pryor trade) made the 53-man roster. Greg Little, claimed off waivers from Cleveland in the spring, looked like he’d be a contributor early in camp, but his play tailed off, and he was cut. Expect Denarius Moore and Brice Butler to be in the rotation. The Raiders liked running back/special teamer Jeremy Stewart, but he was caught in a number’s game. They kept Jamize Olawale over Stewart. One of the best stories to make the team is cornerback Neiko Thorpe. Coaches have raved about him. He was a future signing in January after he played in the CFL this past year.

Draft class is intact: The Raiders kept all eight of their draft picks, including three seventh-rounders: Dowling, TJ Carrie and Shelby Harris. This is how the Raiders are going to build their roster. The draft picks have to hit. On the flip side, defensive end Jack Crawford was cut. He was a fifth-rounder in 2012. Just two members of that six-player class remain on the roster. It was the first draft class of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen era. If this draft class can contribute, it could help define the tenure of these two men.

What’s next: The Raiders will scan the waiver wire. They have the fifth-highest claiming priority. Expect Oakland to consider adding tight ends, offensive linemen, linebackers or cornerbacks. They can start claiming players Sunday. Oakland can compile its 10-player practice squad Sunday as well. It will likely be filled mostly by the 11 undrafted free agents the Raiders signed and then cut this summer.

Raiders moves: Released DT Ricky Lumpkin, FB Karl Williams, WR Greg Little, WR Brandian Ross, DE Jack Crawford, TE Jake Murphy, RB George Atkinson III, DE Denico Autry, CB Chance Casey, T Jack Cornell, LB Carlos Fields, Bojay Filimoeatu, LB Spencer Hadley, OT Dan Kistler, T Erle Ladson, G Lamar Mady, WR Seth Roberts, DE Ryan Robinson, OL Jarrod Shaw, TE Scott Simonson, RB Jeremy Stewart, K Giorgio Tavecchio, FB Karl Williams.
Most significant move: Seattle released quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who didn’t do enough for the Seattle Seahawks to justify keeping a third quarterback on the roster, considering he would be inactive most of the time. This was the right call. Pryor cost the Seahawks a seventh-round draft choice to Oakland, but it was worth it to take a look at a guy who’s such an extraordinary athlete. In the end, Pryor was too inconsistent with his passing and his decision-making. It’s likely another team will sign him. The Seahawks also cut QB B.J. Daniels, but they probably hope to add him to the practice squad.

Going with youth: The Seahawks stuck to the usual formula of opting for talented young players over experienced older players. The team released nine-year veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston in order to keep undrafted rookie Garry Gilliam out of Penn State. Winston also would have cost them $1 million in salary. Gilliam is an outstanding athlete who still is learning the position after playing tight end part of his college career. It also means the Seahawks are completely comfortable with rookie Justin Britt, a second-round draft choice who will start at right tackle.

Undrafted over drafted: The Seahawks cut two draft picks -- fifth-round DT Jimmy Staten and seventh-round FB Kiero Small -- and kept two undrafted rookies in MLB Brock Coyle and Gilliam.

Cornerback trade: Here’s another example of going with younger players. The Seahawks cut CB Phillip Adams, a five-year veteran they picked up in the offseason, and made a trade for Indianapolis CB Marcus Burley, a second-year player with potential. The Seahawks sent the Colts a sixth-round draft choice in 2015.

Seven receivers: For the moment, the Seahawks have seven WRs -- Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Ricardo Lockette, Phil Bates and Kevin Norwood. The Seahawks probably are keeping Bates until Norwood is 100 percent recovered from his foot surgery.

What’s next: Some of these players will end up on the practice squad. Likely candidates are Small, Staten, OT Nate Isles, S Terrance Parks, RB Demitrius Bronson, TE RaShaun Allen, DT Andru Pulu and DE Benson Mayowa, but another team probably will want Mayowa.

Team moves: Terminated veteran contracts of OT Eric Winston and CB Phillip Adams. Waived QB Terrelle Pryor, QB B.J. Daniels, LB Korey Toomer, DE Benson Mayowa, WR Bryan Walters, FB Kiero Small, WR Arceto Clark, G Caylin Hauptmann, OT Nate Isles, C Patrick Lewis, S Terrance Parks, TE Morrell Presley, WR Chris Matthews, DT Jimmy Staten, DT Andru Pulu, TE RaShaun Allen, RB Spencer Ware, CB Akeem Auguste, RB Demitrius Bronson and S Steven Terrell. Placed DT D’Anthony Smith on injured reserve. The Seahawks acquired CB Marcus Burley from Indianapolis for a 2015 sixth-round draft choice.
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 the past 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 assumed 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: When coach Mike Zimmer brought safety Chris Crocker out of retirement for the third consecutive year and the Minnesota Vikings signed him to a one-year deal during training camp, it seemed likely the 34-year-old would make the roster and could possibly win the starting safety job next to Harrison Smith. Crocker, however, didn't even make the roster out of training camp, as the Vikings slashed a number of veteran safeties from their roster. Crocker was cut, along with free-agent addition Kurt Coleman, and the Vikings put safety Jamarca Sanford on injured reserve after he injured his quadriceps on a special-teams play against Kansas City. That means, after a long audition at safety, the Vikings will head into the season with just four: Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo and rookie Antone Exum. Could another veteran pickup be on the way?

Show of faith in Joseph, Stephen: The Vikings' decision to release defensive tackle Fred Evans came as a bit of a surprise, considering the team re-signed Evans to a one-year, $1 million contract in March. But the move to let go of the veteran means the Vikings are confident in two things: that nose tackle Linval Joseph will be healthy for the start of the regular season after being hit in the leg by a stray bullet Aug. 9 in a Minneapolis nightclub and that seventh-round pick Shamar Stephen can handle significant work at defensive tackle. Stephen saw plenty of playing time at both the three-technique and nose tackle positions during camp, and defensive line coach Andre Patterson remarked the Vikings got a steal in the draft. The decision to keep him means the Vikings stuck with nine of the 10 players they drafted in May (cornerback Kendall James was the only player cut).

What's next: The Vikings will be able to assemble their 10-man practice squad Sunday; according to league sources, they're hoping to retain a number of the players they cut Saturday, such as wide receiver Kain Colter, tackle Mike Remmers and running back Joe Banyard. They'll begin practicing with their 53-man roster Monday, as they prepare for the regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

Vikings moves: G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker, RB Joe Banyard, WR Kain Colter, S Kurt Coleman, S Chris Crocker, DT Fred Evans, DT Isame Faciane, TE Chase Ford, WR Donte Foster, CB Kendall James, LB Justin Jackson, C Zac Kerin, CB Julian Posey, TE Allen Reisner, T Mike Remmers,, T Antonio Richardson (placed on injured reserve), S Jamarca Sanford (placed on injured reserve), DE Justin Trattou, RB Dominique Williams, LB Mike Zimmer
Most significant move: In the end, the Packers' decision to keep both backup quarterbacks -- Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien -- suggests they felt the third quarterback was more important than, say, an extra cornerback, safety or running back. Among the surprise cuts were cornerback Jumal Rolle, safety Chris Banjo and perhaps the fact that they did not keep a fourth halfback. In Flynn, they have a backup who has proven he can win games as a fill-in starter. In Tolzien, they have a possible long-term backup with a higher upside than Flynn, who has lost out in competitions for starting jobs in Seattle and Oakland. The Packers have not said who will be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, though it's likely Flynn.

Light in the backfield: The Packers have three halfbacks -- Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris -- they feel good about. In fact, it might be their best halfback trio in a while, which is probably why they went light at this position. They also kept one fullback, John Kuhn, who can handle the ball-carrying duties in short-yardage and emergency situations. The previous three seasons, the Packers have kept at least five backs on their opening-day roster.

Undrafted rookies stick: As usual, the Packers found a couple of players worth keeping in the undrafted free-agent class. They kept two of them -- nose tackle Mike Pennel and outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott. Pennel, of Colorado State-Pueblo, could see some action at nose tackle after the loss of B.J. Raji to a season-ending torn biceps. Elliott, of Toledo, led the NFL in preseason sacks with five. By keeping Pennel and Elliott, the Packers have now had 15 undrafted rookies make their opening-day roster in the past five years.

What's next: The Packers have told many of the players they released Saturday to stay in town while they make decisions on their practice squad. Look for them to sign a practice-squad running back, perhaps rookie LaDarius Perkins, and a couple receivers after going light at both positions on the active roster. They also could still add players to their roster via waivers or free-agent signings. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Packers will work out guard Adam Gettis, who was released by the Redskins. Gettis was a fifth-round pick in 2012.

Packers moves: Four players were placed on injured reserve: T Aaron Adams, LB Nate Palmer, TE Jake Stoneburner and DT Khyri Thornton. Thornton was the highest draft pick (third round) not to end up on the roster. The following players were released: Banjo, Perkins, Rolle WR Kevin Dorsey, LB Jake Doughty, T John Fullington, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, DT Carlos Gray, RB Michael Hill, LB Adrian Hubbard, G Jordan McCray, S Tanner Miller, TE Justin Perillo, DE Luther Robinson, T Jeremy Vujnovich, WR Myles White and CB Ryan White.

New York Jets' cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
Most significant move: It's unusual for a team to dump a second-round pick after only two seasons, but the Jets ran out of patience with wide receiver Stephen Hill. His agent blames the Jets for stunting Hill's development, and he's right on a couple of counts. They rushed him into the lineup as a rookie when he wasn't ready (he played in the triple option in college), and he was slowed by instability at the quarterback position. He also didn't receive a lot of public love from Rex Ryan, who never seemed to embrace Hill. That said, Hill has to take some accountability, too. He's a soft, immature, one-dimensional player who doesn't play with fire. The Jets made the right move. He wasn't one of their top five receivers, and he doesn't play special teams.

Adios, Dimitri: The Jets' decision to release cornerback Dimitri Patterson came as no surprise. Something had to be done, as he had lost the trust of people in the organization and players in the locker room. Here's the part no one is talking about: The Jets were willing to give him a second chance in the aftermath of AWOLGate. They wanted to see how he responded to the suspension. If he had accepted his punishment instead of kicking and screaming, he'd probably still be on the team. But he sealed his fate by dropping his bombshell of a statement, accusing the Jets of lying about the reason for his absence. Basically, he forced his way out. Good riddance.

Survival of the draft picks: Few jobs in America offer as much security as being a John Idzik draft pick. Surprisingly, 10 of the 12 picks remain, including two on injured reserve (wide receiver Shaq Evans and cornerback Dexter McDougle). In upsets, linebackers Jeremiah George, IK Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly survived the final cut, as did wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. This smacks of Idzik trying to protect his drafting record, but it also shows he's trying to develop the bottom of the roster. George, Enemkpali, Reilly and Enunwa will be this year's version of the Idzik Red Shirts (inactive on game day). The downside to this philosophy is that it eliminates useful veteran backups. Linebackers Garrett McIntyre and A.J. Edds lost their jobs because of the youth movement.

Surprise cut: Quarterback Matt Simms. The Jets are taking a calculated risk, hoping no one claims him on waivers. If not, he's likely to return on the practice squad. Under the new rules, Simms is eligible.

What's next: The Jets should send up an "S.O.S." flare regarding their cornerback position. After cutting Johnny Patrick and others, they're down to six corners, only two of whom have significant starting experience -- slot corner Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner, who might miss the opener because of a high-ankle sprain. The starters on the outside could be Darrin Walls and converted safety Antonio Allen, assuming he recovers from a concussion. The backups are Ellis Lankster and LeQuan Lewis. LeQuan Lewis? Yes, the Jets are desperate. Look for Idzik to import a functional veteran by the end of the weekend. Some folks are clamoring for Champ Bailey because he's a big name, but he's 36 years old and didn't play a snap in the preseason.

Jets' moves: Placed LB Antwan Barnes on the PUP list; Released Hill, Patterson, Simms, Edds, McIntyre, Patrick, WR Clyde Gates, RB Daryl Richardson, RB Alex Green, TE Chris Pantale, DE Zach Thompson, QB Tajh Boyd, DL Tevita Finau, S Rontez Miles, OT Brent Qvale, G Caleb Schlauderaff, DT Kerry Hyder, LB Troy Davis, CB Jeremy Reeves, G Will Campbell and CB Brandon Dixon.
Most significant move: It might actually be a move they did not make, at least not yet. The 49ers keeping third-string quarterback Josh Johnson, along with starter Colin Kaepernick and backup Blaine Gabbert defies convention or, at least, numerous projections. Many observers saw the Niners only keeping two QBs, with Johnson being shown the door. But with Gabbert getting banged up in the team's exhibition finale and Johnson putting on a show, completing 14-of-17 passes for 135 yards, three touchdowns and interception returned for a touchdown, the 49ers obviously felt the need to add depth under center. For now.

Taking a gamble: Kassim Osgood is a receiver by trade but he's made his bones with the 49ers as a special-teams ace. He was presented with a game ball after blocking a punt in the Niners' exhibition finale. No matter. Osgood is gone. But there's a very good chance he could be back in time for Week 2. As a vested veteran, Osgood's salary of $955,000 would have been guaranteed had he been on the opening week roster. It's a gamble, yes, but one the 49ers won last year with Osgood.

Specialists out: Keeping with the special teams vibe, two more such aces were shown the door, one more surprising then the first. C.J. Spillman, a backup safety, had been one of the team's top special teamers in coverage since joining the Niners in 2010 from San Diego. But his being released saved them $1.25 million in salary and a salary-cap number of almost $1.56 million, per ESPN Stats & Info. Then, there was longsnapper Kevin McDermott, seen as a lock in most corners, getting cut and the job going to Kyle Nelson, whose versatility as a tight end made McDermott expendable. After all, Nelson had five catches for 15 yards and two TDs Thursday at Houston.

What's next: Technically, the 49ers cannot place anyone on the injured reserve/designated to return list until Tuesday, meaning if they plan on making such a move, such a player would have to be on their initial 53-man roster today. Paging nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (biceps) and/or rookie center Marcus Martin (knee).

49ers' moves: Released T Carter Bykowski, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Lance Lewis, LS Kevin McDermott, CB Darryl Morris, G Al Netter, DL Lawrence Okoye, WR Kassim Osgood, T Michael Philipp, NT Mike Purcell, G Ryan Seymour, LB Shayne Skov, RB Alfonso Smith, G Adam Snyder, S C.J. Spillman, LB Chase Thomas, S Bubba Ventrone, WR L'Damian Washington and RB Glenn Winston. Placed CB Kenneth Acker and FB Will Tukuafu on injured reserve.
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.

Cleveland Browns cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
Most significant move: The Cleveland Browns terminated the contracts of four veteran players, most notably wide receiver Nate Burleson, despite desperately needing proven, reliable pass-catchers. The 33-year-old Burleson missed most of training camp and the preseason nursing a strained hamstring. He played in Cleveland’s fourth preseason game against Chicago, catching one pass for 27 yards. The Browns, who will be without last year’s league-leading receiver Josh Gordon, kept five receivers: Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel and Charles Johnson. Said Cleveland coach Mike Pettine: “Nate is a true professional, and it was a difficult decision for us. Ultimately, his availability was a concern with all the time he missed, and we liked what we saw in the other players at that position.”

Purging the 2013 draft class: Cleveland’s 2013 draft was widely panned for being atrocious. It seems Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer agree. On Saturday, the Browns cut cornerback Leon McFadden, their third-round pick in 2013, and guard Garrett Gilkey, one of their two seventh-round picks. With McFadden and Gilkey gone, Cleveland only has two players on its roster -- outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and defensive end Armonty Bryant -- from last year’s draft class.

Running back depth: Last week, Pettine said Dion Lewis was close to grabbing the No. 3 running back spot. On Saturday, Lewis got cut. Ben Tate will be the starter, backed up by Terrance West and undrafted rookie free agent Isaiah Crowell, who should get a handful of carries per game. In the Browns last preseason game, Crowell rushed for 102 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run. Chris Ogbonnaya also got cut.

What’s next: After giving the players Saturday off, Pettine and the Browns will return to practice on Sunday afternoon to prepare for their season-opener at Pittsburgh. On Sunday, teams can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squads. Also, the Browns likely will take a look at former New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, the Jets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. Pettine was the Jets’ defensive coordinator during Hill’s rookie season. About the roster, Pettine said, “I think the 53 is always going to be fluid, especially at the start of the season.”

Browns moves: The team terminated the contracts of veteran WR Nate Burleson, LB Zac Diles, LB Jamaal Westerman and RB Chris Ogbonnaya. CB Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve. The Browns waived DB Josh Aubrey, DB Leon McFadden, DL Calvin Barnett, DL Jacobbi McDaniel, DL Justin Staples, OL Reid Fragel, OL Garrett Gilkey, OL Donald Hawkins, OL Alex Parsons, OL Abasi Salimu, QB Connor Shaw, TE/FB MarQueis Gray, RB Dion Lewis, TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi and WR Willie Snead.

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
Most significant move: There were not many roster spots to be had when the Denver Broncos opened training camp, but right from the start it was clear their depth on the defensive line was far better than it was in 2013 and that a player who was previously a starter could certainly get caught in the squeeze. That player was Kevin Vickerson, who started 11 games last season for the Broncos and 41 games in his four seasons with the team. But the Broncos had at least some salary-cap concerns this time around and Vickerson’s $2.266 million cap figure to go with the play of Mitch Unrein, Marvin Austin and youngster Quanterus Smith cost Vickerson his spot. Unrein also played some at defensive end in the preseason, showing a little more versatility and the Broncos will save about $1.766 million against the cap with Vickerson’s release. The Broncos also had at least some long-term concerns about Vickerson’s hip, which he injured last Nov. 24 before going to injured reserve.

Undrafted not unwanted: Running back Juwan Thompson made it 11 years in a row the Broncos have had an undrafted rookie make the cut to 53 players. Thompson, part of a platoon system at Duke, consistently showed the well-rounded game the Broncos want from their backs throughout offseason workouts and training camp. At 225 pounds, he is the team’s biggest back, has lined up at both fullback and running back, shown good instincts in pass protection and catches the ball. He's just the kind of guy the Broncos want at the position, and he gives them quality special teams ability as well.

Stick to it: Ben Garland, after two years on the Broncos’ practice squad, a two-year active duty stint in the Air Force and a position switch from defensive tackle to the offensive line this past offseason, made the Broncos’ initial cut to 53. Garland is always the first volunteer for off-the-field community appearances and routinely has lined up on both sides of the ball for the scout team. He steadily worked his way up the depth chart to second-team guard by the end of the preseason. He played every offensive snap in the Broncos’ preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys.

What’s next: Because of their Super Bowl appearance, the Broncos sit at No. 31 in the waiver claim order. It means, save for a cursory look at a returner or a kicker -- they worked out Andrew Furney on Satuday -- they will likely go with what they have.

Broncos moves: K Matt Prater placed on reserve/suspended. DE Kenny Anunike placed on injured reserve. LB Shaquil Barrett, RB Kapri Bibbs, S John Boyett, QB Zac Dysert, LB L.J. Fort, WR Bennie Fowler, DT Sione Fua, S Duke Ihenacho, TE Jameson Konz, G Ryan Miller, TE Cameron Morrah, CB Jerome Murphy, T Vinston Painter, WR Nathan Palmer, C Matt Paradis, TE Gerell Robinson, DE Brian Sanford, DB Jordan Sullen, DT Vickerson and CB Lou Young were waived or released, depending on their experience level.
Most significant move: The Kansas City Chiefs are going with an undrafted rookie kicker, Cairo Santos, instead of veteran Ryan Succop. The competition through training camp and the preseason was close. The difference may have been money. Succop was due $2 million from the Chiefs this year. Santos will make $422,000. Santos is only 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, but the ball jumps off his foot. The Chiefs expressed no fear throughout training camp about going with a rookie as their kicker, lending an air the job was Santos’ to lose. He never did anything to indicate he would.

No more QB dilemma: The Chiefs didn’t want to part with any of their four quarterbacks, so Tyler Bray’s knee and ankle injuries from Thursday night’s preseason game in Green Bay were very convenient. The injuries allowed the Chiefs to put Bray on injured reserve. His season is over but the Chiefs retain his rights. Bray has a lot of ability, but he wasn’t going to help the Chiefs this year. Their quarterback depth chart now reads Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and rookie Aaron Murray.

What’s next: The Chiefs could be actively looking for help on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. Right tackle Donald Stephenson returns from NFL suspension after four games. Until then, the Chiefs can’t be content with a collection of backups that includes two untested players and Mike McGlynn, recently released by Washington. The Chiefs have precious little in the way of experienced depth in the secondary. Meanwhile, the Chiefs kept four tight ends and six running backs. So the final players on the depth chart at those respective positions, Richard Gordon and Joe McKnight, shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Chiefs moves: Placed QB Tyler Bray and WR Kyle Williams on injured-reserve list; placed DL Mike Catapano on non-football injury list; placed WR Dwayne Bowe and OT Donald Stephenson on suspended list; released S Jonathon Amaya, S Malcolm Bronson, FB Jordan Campbell, DL Dominique Hamilton, WR Mark Harrison, G Ricky Henry, LB Alonzo Highsmith, LB Nico Johnson, DT Kyle Love, CB Justin Rogers, DT Kona Schwenke, PK Ryan Succop, CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, LB Devan Walker, OT J’Marcus Webb, RB Charcandrick West, WR Fred Williams.
PHILADELPHIA -- The 2011 NFL draft was not a particularly good one for the Philadelphia Eagles. The release this weekend of kicker Alex Henery, their fourth-round pick in 2011, underscores just how bad the Eagles’ decision-making was that weekend.

"We’ve talked about it a lot," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "If you don’t learn from what we did in those couple (2010, 2011) of drafts, and try to figure out the answers of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, then you’re not in the right business. As you look at that, and where kickers have gone, you’ve got to learn from it."

Henery was the 120th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was taken while running back Bilal Powell, tight end Julius Thomas, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and wide receiver Denarius Moore were still on the board. Those four have scored a total of 33 touchdowns in the past three seasons.

The Eagles got their starting center, Jason Kelce, in the sixth round of that draft. Otherwise, it was a pretty grim exercise.

First-round pick Danny Watkins, a guard from Baylor, was taken one spot ahead of Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. Jordan has 21 1/2 career sacks. Watkins is out of football.

Second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett, a safety from Temple University, lasted two seasons with the Eagles. He is now with the New York Jets.

Third-round pick Curtis Marsh was released by the Eagles this weekend. Marsh has been released before and spent some time with the Bengals last season. He has never started an NFL game.

Henery was one of two fourth-round picks. Linebacker Casey Matthews was the other. Matthews is still with the team, but is a part-time defensive player and special teams regular.

Of the two fifth-round picks, running back Dion Lewis spent two years with the Eagles and was with Cleveland last season. Center Julian Vandervelde has been a backup with the Eagles and was released after injuring his back this summer.

Linebackers Brian Rolle and Greg Lloyd were taken in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. Both were out of football in 2013. Fullback Stanley Havili, a late seventh-round pick, is with the Indianapolis Colts.

That 2011 draft helped seal Andy Reid’s fate as head coach of the Eagles. By the end of the 2013 season, Reid’s team was 4-12 and he was out of a job. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie looked at the decision-making over the previous few years and concluded that Reid was responsible. Roseman remained as general manager and was part of the decision to hire Chip Kelly to replace Reid.

"We spent a lot of time figuring that out and making some substantial changes in our process," Roseman said. "I think about the draft in a kind of broad-scope way."




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