NFL Nation: AFC roster analysis 2013

Most significant moves: The Raiders were one of the more intriguing teams in the NFL on cut-down day because they have so many holes and ongoing competitions. There were a lot of significant moves. The Raiders are desperate for pass-rushers, and they cut two who were expected to make contributions. Veteran Andre Carter (expected to be a leader on a young team) and seventh-round pick David Bass were cut. Coach Dennis Allen recently said the team was counting on Bass. Tight end Richard Gordon had a chance to start, particularly because he is a good blocker on a team with a bad offensive line, but he was cut. Jeron Mastrud is the starter for now with David Ausberry coming back from a shoulder injury. The punting battle has yet to be settled. Both veteran Chris Kluwe and youngster Marquette King were kept. Either Oakland will let the two battle it out another week or cut one of them when the team makes roster additions. Perhaps the Raiders are even trying to swing a trade. Since King has made it this far, he might stick around. The team wanted to see improved consistency and he has shown it.

Crowded quarterback room: The Raiders are keeping four quarterbacks. The team kept both fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson of Arkansas and undrafted free agent Matt McGloin of Penn State. It would be highly unusual for a team to keep four quarterbacks. Some just keep two. That’s three players who most likely won’t be playing on game day. That is not ideal for a team with major depth issues. McGloin outperformed Wilson and became the No. 3 quarterback. But the decision to keep Wilson comes down to the Raiders not waiting to give up on a quarterback who was a fourth-round pick. I understand. It would be admitting a huge mistake, and perhaps Wilson (many thought he could push to start as a rookie during the offseason) will figure things out. Keeping four quarterbacks adversely affects this roster. The truth is, none of the current quarterbacks in Oakland -- including Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor -- may be the ultimate answer for the franchise. But the Raiders are reluctant to make any decisions now.

What’s next: The Raiders are thin and will likely look for players for the next several weeks. I would not be surprised if this team adds four or five players this week. Prime need areas are tight end, the offensive line and pass-rusher. There are a lot of interesting tight ends available, including Tony Moeaki (talented, but injured), D.J. Williams (who was in Green Bay with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie) and Clay Harbor. Possible offensive line targets include Jake Scott and Danny Watkins.

Players cut: DE Andre Carter, LB Omar Gaither, CB Joselio Hanson, T Tony Hills, S Reggie Smith, DL Ryan Baker, DE David Bass, LB Billy Boyko, CB Chance Casey, G Jason Foster, TE Richard Gordon, WR Greg Jenkins, S Shelton Johnson, TE Brian Leonhardt, G Lamar Mady, K Justin Medlock, DT Kurt Taufa'asau, LB Chase Thomas, WR Conner Vernon, RB Deonte Williams and T Willie Smith. G Tony Bergstrom was put on injured reserve. WR Andre Holmes is serving a four-game NFL suspension.

New York Jets cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
9:42
PM ET
Most significant move: It wasn't a surprise, but the New York Jets waived Greg McElroy, their only quarterback not named Mark Sanchez who has started a game in the NFL. Granted, McElroy has only one career start, but the move is significant because it underscores the lack of experience at the position. If Sanchez (shoulder) doesn't dress for the season opener, it leaves the position to Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Graham Harrell, who have a combined total of four career pass attempts -- all by Harrell. The former Packers backup made the final cut despite having spent only three days with the Jets. McElroy was waived with an injury, so he wouldn't have been ready for Week 1 anyway. Still, this is a precarious situation to say the least.

Not much depth on offense: Aside from quarterback, the Jets are perilously thin at a few spots. They have only five receivers, one of whom (Santonio Holmes) is a question mark because of his surgically repaired foot. The group includes a rookie free agent, Ryan Spadola. They also don't have an experienced backup at tackle. Jason Smith was supposed to be that guy, but he was atrocious in the final preseason game. Vladimir Ducasse can play some tackle, but that's not his best spot. Rookie OT Oday Aboushi (fifth-round pick) isn't ready to play. They have low numbers in the backfield -- only four backs, although Mike Goodson will be eligible to return from his suspension in Week 5.

What's ahead: The Jets need help on offense. You can't go into a season with Aboushi as your No. 3 tackle, so look for them to address this over the next 24 hours. Anybody up for a Wayne Hunter reunion? The wide receiver situation is interesting. Right now, the Jets have only three healthy and experienced receivers. They're either confident Holmes will return for the opener or they have plans to add a veteran. The quarterback situation bears watching, too. If Sanchez is sidelined a few weeks, it might behoove New York to import an experienced backup. A couple of former Marty Mornhinweg-ites are available -- Vince Young and Trent Edwards.

Jets cuts: QB Greg McElroy (injured), RB Mossis Madu (injured), WR Michael Campbell, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Zach Rogers, TE Chris Pantale, C Erik Cook, OT J.B. Shugarts, OT Jason Smith, DL Junior Aumavae, DL Lanier Coleman, DL Tevita Finau, DL Antonio Garay, LB Troy Davis, LB JoJo Dickson, LB Jacquies Smith, DB Royce Adams, DB Mike Edwards, DB Rontez Miles, PK Dan Carpenter.

Placed on reserve/suspended: RB Mike Goodson.

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
9:30
PM ET
Most significant move: The Dolphins had several tough decisions to make at the bottom of their roster. Perhaps the biggest call was whether to keep three quarterbacks -- and Miami opted Saturday to keep third-stringer Pat Devlin. Devlin played nearly all of Miami’s fifth preseason game against the New Orleans Saints and threw for 259 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Devlin showed some good and some bad, and it was just enough.

Several other bubble players didn't make the team. Wide receiver Marvin McNutt and defensive linemen Kheeston Randall and A.J. Francis were all in the running for the 53-man roster; all three are strong candidates for Miami’s practice squad. There's also the chance that any of the players cut will be scooped up by other teams. That probably explains why the Dolphins were the last NFL team to release their list of cuts Saturday night -- there had to be some gamesmanship involved.

Close calls: Several Dolphins who made the 53-man roster won't be able to rest easy. Cornerback R.J. Stanford, defensive back Don Jones, tight end Michael Egnew and offensive tackle Will Yeatman are among several bubble players who still have jobs.

For Egnew and Stanford in particular, injuries during the course of training camp and the preseason helped their case. The Dolphins might not be finished adding players this weekend, however.

What’s next: Like most teams, Miami will examine the waiver wires closely. Miami spent $200 million in free agency this offseason but is far from a perfect team. The Dolphins can use additional depth at positions such as offensive line, tight end and now wide receiver. By cutting McNutt and Chad Bumphis, the Dolphins only have four receivers on their roster. That will change soon. Miami runs a lot of three-receiver sets and needs more players at the position.

It’s also time for Miami to set its sights on a Week 1 road game against the Cleveland Browns. The Dolphins have playoff aspirations this season, but they must win their first road game to set the tone in 2013.

Dolphins cuts: G Chris Barker, C Sam Brenner, WR Chad Bumphis, WR Keenan Davis, DT A.J. Francis, RB Jonas Gray, S Keelan Johnson, S Jordan Kovacs, T Andrew McDonald, WR Marvin McNutt, TE Kyle Miller, DE Tristin Okpalaugo, CB Julian Posey, CB De’Andre Presley, DT Kheeston Randall, DT Tracy Robertson, LB Lee Robinson, LB Austin Spitler, WR Brian Tyms, OT Jeff Adams (waived/injured), QB Aaron Corp (waived/injured), LB Antwan Applewhite (terminated contract).
Most significant move. One of the major storylines this summer was the kicking battle between Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay. Who won? Nobody. The Cleveland Browns will continue their search for a kicker after cutting both on their roster, which makes not re-signing Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson even more questionable. Graham was 3-of-3 on field goals this preseason, even making a 50-yarder, but sat out the preseason finale with a stiff back. The Browns could take a look at Dan Carpenter or Billy Cundiff. "We gauged the preseason games and weren’t completely satisfied," coach Rob Chudzinski said after the cuts were announced.

The Browns only have four wide receivers because Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games. Cleveland chose Josh Cooper, a former teammate of Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State, over David Nelson. It wasn't a surprising decision because Nelson was rarely on the field. He was coming back from an ACL injury suffered last season. The Browns also kept all three quarterbacks: Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer.

Going the undrafted route. Nearly 10 percent of the Browns' roster right now is made up of undrafted rookies. Five survived the final cutdown: safety Josh Aubrey; offensive linemen Caylin Hauptmann and Martin Wallace; and linebackers Paul Hazel and Eric Martin. Aubrey beat out sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter, who was cut, for one of the final spots on the roster. One reason why the Browns kept so many undrafted rookies is because they only had five draft picks this year. Slaughter was the only draft pick to get waived. Hauptmann and Wallace are two of 12 offensive linemen to make the team. The Browns have 25 players who have two years of experience or less.

What's next. The top priority, of course, is signing a kicker. The Browns are light at cornerback with only four (Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, Chris Owens and Leon McFadden). That could be one area of focus when looking at the waiver wire. The Browns also may want to upgrade at backup running back. They lost Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty to injuries this month, which leaves Brandon Jackson as the No. 2 running back.

Here are the moves the Browns made to get down to the league limit of 53 players:

Contract terminated: K Shayne Graham.

Waived: TE Dan Gronkowski, OL Aaron Adams, DB Akeem Auguste, K Brandon Bogotay, LB Justin Cole, RB Jamaine Cook, DL Hall Davis, WR Tori Gurley, LB James-Michael Johnson, WR David Nelson, WR Naaman Roosevelt, DL Brian Sanford, DB Jamoris Slaughter, LB Justin Staples, OL Braxston Cave, WR Mike Edwards, DB Abdul Kanneh, RB Miguel Maysonet, DB Kent Richardson and P/K Colton Schmidt.
Most significant moves: This is a thin roster, so there weren’t a ton of standout cuts here. But there were two veteran names of note to get the axe in the first year of the Tom Telesco-Mike McCoy era in San Diego. Tackle Max Starks and receiver Robert Meachem were cut. Neither were very good this summer. Starks was signed to be the left tackle. But he was beaten out by King Dunlap and then by young Mike Harris to be the swing tackle. Meachem, signed in 2012 by the previous regime to be the No. 1 receiver, was a disaster. The team is thin at receiver and Meachem is guaranteed to make $5 million this season. Still, the Chargers decided to move away from him. Other cuts of note were center David Molk and pass-rusher Thomas Keiser. Both were expected to have roles going into camp.

Going young: This is a team that is rebuilding and the 53-man roster shows it. All six draft picks (cornerback Steve Williams is on the injured reserve) made the team and three undrafted free agents -- safety Jahleel Addae, nose tackle Kwame Geathers and defensive end Brandon Moore -- made the 53-man roster. U-T San Diego reports it’s the first time since 2007 that every draft pick made the team and the first time in 10 years that three undrafted free agents made the roster. Telesco is looking for youth to make an impact. The opportunity is there for these youngsters.

What’s next: This roster is far from set. The Chargers are going to be a work in progress. I expect Telesco will tinker with the bottom of this roster for the next several weeks, maybe even all season. As an executive in Indianapolis, Telesco was known for his eye for talent and for being able to pick up pieces off the street. Thus, this is his time to shine. He has plenty of work to do in San Diego. The Chargers could use depth on the offensive line, at receiver, on the defensive line, at outside linebacker and in the secondary. The team’s special teams was weak in the preseason. That’s a telltale sign of poor depth. So, more players are needed. Among the players San Diego could potentially look at are receivers Lavelle Hawkins, Chris Harper, Russell Shepard, Tavarres King, linemen Ben Ijalana, Fernando Velasco, Jake Scott and Danny Watkins and defensive tackle Drake Nevis.

Players cut: CB Cornelius Brown, OT Nick Becton, DE Frank Beltre, S Sean Cattouse, TE Ben Cotton, CB Marcus Cromartie, LB Phillip Dillard, CB Greg Gatson, CB Logan Harrell, DE Jerrell Harris, RB Michael Hill, CB Josh Johnson, LB Thomas Keiser, WR Robert Meachem, CB William Middleton, LB Dan Molls, WR David Molk, OT Randy Richards, TE David Rolf, G Steve Schilling, OT Max Starks, WR Luke Tasker.
Most significant move: The Chiefs decided not to keep tight end Tony Moeaki after he fractured his shoulder in a preseason game. Moeaki may have been able to return to play at some point during the regular season, but the Chiefs decided to move on without him. They kept veteran Anthony Fasano, rookie Travis Kelce and journeyman Kevin Brock at tight end, but the loss of Moeaki leaves a hole. Moeaki had a strong training camp, finally looking like he did as a rookie after missing all of the 2011 season with torn knee ligaments. The Chiefs will have to find his production elsewhere, but it won’t be easy.

Strength in numbers: The Chiefs’ strongest position is linebacker, so they kept 10. Included are a pair of Ivy Leaguers, seventh-round draft pick Mike Catapano (Princeton) and undrafted Josh Martin (Columbia). Neither figures to have much of a role this season unless it’s on special teams, but the Chiefs didn’t want to risk losing either player. The Chiefs also kept another rookie linebacker in fourth-round pick Nico Johnson. Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson were Pro Bowlers last season while the fourth starter, Akeem Jordan, played well in the preseason. Likewise, Frank Zombo and Edgar Jones secured backup spots by playing well in the preseason. The Chiefs also kept 10 defensive backs but they aren’t as deep in the secondary. They’ll play as many as seven defensive backs at one time. Rookie Sanders Commings broke his collarbone on the first day of training camp and hasn’t played or practiced since, but the Chiefs obviously feel he can contribute this season because they kept him on the active roster.

What’s next: By the numbers, the Chiefs didn’t leave themselves short at any position but that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking closely at the waiver wire. They could use receiving help at tight end, have little in the way of proven depth on the defensive line and unsuccessfully tried to identify a reliable fourth cornerback in the preseason. Beyond that, general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid have shown a willingness to churn the bottom of the roster in search of developmental players.

Kansas City Chiefs cuts: OT Steven Baker, WR Josh Bellamy, S Malcolm Bronson, S Greg Castillo, CB Kennard Cox, DL Marcus Dixon, OL Tommie Draheim, LB Darin Drakeford, RB Shaun Draughn, WR Frankie Hammond Jr., TE Demetrius Harris, S Tysyn Hartman, G Ricky Henry, DE Austen Lane, LB Orie Lemon, TE Tony Moeaki, CB Semaj Moody, FB Toben Opurum, OT Matt Reynolds, WR Rico Richardson, OL Rokevious Watkins, LB Ridge Wilson
Most significant move: Tough to pick just one when the players involved are Rob Gronkowski, Tim Tebow and Adrian Wilson, among others. But in terms of impact, Gronkowski seems like the right choice, as he opens the year on the 53-man active roster and not on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. This tells us that the Patriots believe Gronkowski has a chance to return to the practice field, and maybe even play in games, within the first six weeks of the regular season.

Tebow's tenure comes to an end: Vying for a spot as a No. 3 quarterback, Tim Tebow wasn't expected to have a major impact on the on-field fortunes of the team this year. But his presence on the team, from the time he was signed on June 11, generated as much attention as any player. The Patriots ultimately decided to go with just two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, for the fourth time in the past five years.

Adrian Wilson lands on injured reserve: Wilson was viewed to be on the roster bubble and played deep into Thursday's final preseason game. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound safety had been signed to a three-year deal in the offseason and the hope of many was that he could provide a physical presence similar to what the Patriots had when Rodney Harrison was on the club. But those plans didn't unfold as desired as the Patriots' safety corps looks almost identical to what it was in 2012.

Change at punter: In a competition that captured our attention throughout training camp, rookie Ryan Allen (Louisiana Tech) earned the punter job over incumbent Zoltan Mesko (fourth year). Allen, from our view, had the stronger leg, but Mesko was more consistent when it came to control and directional/situational punting, which is something the Patriots value heavily at the position. Mesko was entering the final year of his contract and due $1.3 million, while Allen has a three-year deal and is set to earn $405,000 this year, which was likely a consideration.

What's next after cutting to 51: In a move that indicates more personnel additions are coming, the Patriots' roster now stands at 51 players. By cutting to 51, the Patriots won't have to make a corresponding roster move when they sign another player, or claim another player on waivers. Defensive tackle is one position where the Patriots are likely seeking help.

Patriots moves: TE Jake Ballard, FB Ben Bartholomew, DE Marcus Benard, DE Jermaine Cunningham, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, TE Daniel Fells, DT Marcus Forston, DE Justin Francis, CB Justin Green, WR Johnathan Haggerty, OL Chris McDonald, P Zoltan Mesko, CB Stephon Morris, OL Luke Patterson, DL Gilbert Pena, LB Mike Rivera, WR Quentin Sims, C Matt Stankiewitch, LB Jeff Tarpinian, QB Tim Tebow, DL Scott Vallone, RB George Winn.
Most significant move. The Bengals surprisingly cut John Conner and kept Orson Charles. This means the Bengals aren't going with a traditional fullback. The Bengals will use two tight ends in their primary formation with Jermaine Gresham and first-round pick Tyler Eifert. When the Bengals need a lead blocker, they'll go with Charles, who is more of an H-back. Conner worked with the starting offense in the preseason finale and was the lead blocker on Giovani Bernard's one-yard touchdown. He also played a part in the top rushing attack in the preseason.

Cincinnati also cut offensive tackle Dennis Roland, who joined the Bengals in 2008 and played in every game for the previous four seasons. Rookie fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson made Roland expendable. And, as expected, the Bengals parted ways with defensive end Dontay Moch, a disappointing third-round pick who never produced a tackle in two seasons with the team. The release of quarterback John Skelton means Josh Johnson is the backup to Andy Dalton.

Surplus at two spots. Most expected the Bengals to choose between Ryan Whalen and Dane Sanzenbacher. But they kept both. Sanzenbacher helped his cause by producing big plays as a receiver (averaged 20 yards on five catches) and punt returner (71-yard touchdown) in the preseason. The Bengals are carrying seven wide receivers for the second straight season. They did waive Cobi Hamilton but the rookie sixth-round pick is expected to go on the practice squad.

The Bengals decided to keep five safeties, the same amount as cornerbacks. George Iloka is listed as the starter with Reggie Nelson, but rookie third-round pick Shawn Williams will likely be the eventual starter. Like wide receiver, Cincinnati was expected to choose between Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles for the fourth safety spot and it kept both. Miles survived because of his play on special teams.

What's next. The Bengals likely will put wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (ankle) on the injured reserve-designated to return list, but they can't make the move until after 4 p.m. Tuesday. Based on its numbers at linebacker, that's the position Cincinnati will look at on the waiver wire. The Bengals are currently carrying five: James Harrison, Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga, Jayson DiManche and Vincent Rey. The Bengals will probably sign linebacker J.K. Schaffer, the leading tackler in the preseason, on the practice squad after waiving him Saturday. The Bengals may add a sixth cornerback.

Here are the moves made by the Bengals to get down to the league limit of 53:

Waived: FB John Conner, TE-LS Bryce Davis, S Tony Dye, OT Reid Fragel, WR Cobi Hamilton, RB Dan Herron, C T.J. Johnson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, CB Onterio McCalebb, DE Dontay Moch, CB Shaun Prater, WR Taveon Rogers, WR Roy Roundtree, LB J.K. Schaffer, QB John Skelton, DT Terrence Stephens, G John Sullen, LB Bruce Taylor.

Contract terminated: OT Dennis Roland.

Physically Unable to Perform list: RB Bernard Scott.

Injured reserve: LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder).

Indianapolis Colts cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:50
PM ET
Most significant move: Defensive lineman Fili Moala didn’t play in the preseason because was he was still rehabbing a knee injury from late 2012, but that didn’t stop him from making the roster. Keeping Moala put an end to fellow defensive lineman Drake Nevis’ time with the Colts. Fullback Dominique Jones was cut, leaving the Colts with only one fullback on the roster, Stanley Havili.

A feel-good story: Linebacker Caesar Rayford kept hearing from NFL teams over the years that they liked what they saw out of him on video while he played in the Arena Football League. Rayford, however, never got an invite to a training camp from any of those teams. That changed this year when the Colts, led by general manager Ryan Grigson’s willingness to search anywhere for talent, invited Rayford to camp. Rayford didn’t disappoint, either. He had a team-high five sacks during the preseason. Rayford now has a spot on the 53-man roster. The 27-year-old rookie’s best bet to get on the field will likely be on special teams. He’ll take it after getting looked over for so many years while he played in the Canadian and Arena Football League.

What’s next: Grigson and his staff aren’t going to sit tight. They’ll continue to monitor which players -- especially offensive linemen and possibly fullback -- around the league were released, and don’t be surprised if the roster the Colts take into their season opener against Oakland on Sept. 8 is completely different than the current one. The Colts will likely add quarterback Chandler Harnish and linebacker Daniel Adongo to the practice squad if both players clear waivers. Adongo didn’t play in the preseason, but the Colts are intrigued by the former rugby player. Harnish was on the practice squad last season.

Colts cuts: LB: Daniel Adongo, Josh McNary, Monte Simmons, Shawn Loiseau. DB: Larry Asante, Marshay Green, Sheldon Price, Daxton Swanson. OL: Thomas Austin, Ben Ijalana, Bradley Sowell, Lee Ziemba, Emmett Cleary. DL: Lawrence Guy, Drake Nevis, Martin Tevaseu. QB: Chandler Harnish. FB: Robert Hughes. TE: Dominique Jones. WR: Jeremy Kelley, Jabin Sambrano, Lanear Sampson
Most significant move. The Baltimore Ravens kept seven wide receivers but Tandon Doss still didn't make it. Doss, a fourth-round pick in 2011, went from battling for the No. 2 wide receiver job at the start of training camp to not having a job by the end of the preseason. He never had the same chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco that rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette did. Doss' stock with the Ravens plummeted in the third preseason game, when Flacco threw an interception because Doss ran the wrong route. The Ravens chose to keep both promising young receivers (Brown, an undrafted rookie; and Mellette, a seventh-round pick) and two receivers dealing with injuries (LaQuan Williams and Deonte Thompson).

The most surprising move was waiving running back Bobby Rainey, who scored two touchdowns in the preseason finale. It looked like Rainey was going to make the team after the Ravens waived Anthony Allen and Delone Carter. That leaves the Ravens with two tailbacks, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rainey likely will go on the practice squad.

Potential return. When Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip in the first contact practice of training camp, coach John Harbaugh ruled out the starting tight end for the season. Harbaugh later said there was a chance that Pitta could return, and it looks like the Ravens are going to give him a chance to do so. The Ravens decided not to put Pitta on injured reserve, which indicates that the team will put him on the injured reserve-designated to return list. But the Ravens can't use that designation, which can only be placed on one player, on Tuesday.

The Ravens currently have one healthy tight end on the roster: Dallas Clark. The hope is Ed Dickson, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, will be ready for the season opener. The Ravens cut veteran Billy Bajema and undrafted rookie Matt Furstenburg on Saturday. Baltimore will likely bring back Bajema when Pitta is put on IR-designated to return and sign Furstenburg to the practice squad once he clears waivers.

What's next. General manager Ozzie Newsome says a team can't have enough cornerbacks and he has a history of adding offensive linemen after the final major cutdown. At this point, the Ravens have four cornerbacks on the active roster: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown. The fifth cornerback, Asa Jackson, is suspended for five games. The Ravens could use another cornerback, especially one who can make an impact on special teams.

Baltimore is carrying eight offensive linemen on the roster, but that could change. Center Ryan Jensen, who had foot surgery, could go on injured reserve. The Ravens need to upgrade with a backup offensive lineman who has the versatility of playing multiple positions.

Here are the Ravens' moves to get down to the league limit of 53:

Waived: S Omar Brown, WR Tandon Doss, TE Matt Furstenburg, DT Cody Larsen, G Antoine McClain, RB Bobby Rainey, J.J. Unga, RB Anthony Allen, CB Marc Anthony, ILB Nigel Carr, RB Delone Carter, ILB Brandon Copeland, QB Dayne Crist, OT Jordan Devey, OT Rogers Gaines, TE Alex Silvestro, C Reggie Stephens.

Contract terminated: TE Billy Bajema, QB Caleb Hanie.

Injured reserve: D.J. Bryant (knee).

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:40
PM ET
Most significant move: It was a tough couple days for some of the Broncos' younger players. After retaining the bulk of their draft classes in the first two years on the job for John Elway and John Fox, the Broncos waived four former draft picks Saturday. Three were from the two Elway/Fox classes, when they trimmed the roster to 53 players.

Center/guard Philip Blake (fourth round in 2012), Jeremy Beal (seventh round in ’11), wide receiver Tavarres King (fifth round in ’13) and tackle Vinston Painter (sixth round in ’13) were all let go. King, who spent much of training camp and the preseason working with the second-team offense, likely lost his spot when the Broncos kept 11 defensive backs and three quarterbacks, including rookie Zac Dysert.

King and Painter are practice squad possibilities if they clear waivers.

“As you get better -- you never want to release anybody -- but as you get better, you have fewer slots,’’ Elway said. “That’s the situation that we’re running into.’’

Eleven's a crowd: In 2011, the first year of Elway’s tenure as the Broncos’ top football decision-maker, the Broncos kept nine defensive backs when they cut the roster to 53. Last year they kept 10 -- five cornerbacks, five safeties.

This year, with needs on special teams carrying the day, they kept 11 defensive backs, six cornerbacks and five safeties. The Broncos, like many teams in the league, have gone to more defensive backs on special teams, taking several jobs in coverage units that used to go to linebackers.

"You have to look at special teams too, what guys do on special teams," Elway said. "… So, those are the type things that a lot of people don’t think comes into the equation but what you do on fourth down is part of it."

As a result the Broncos are little light at wide receiver, with just five including returner Trindon Holliday. Holliday played just seven snaps on offense last season after joining the Broncos in October. They team will likely to expand his role slightly this season.

What's next: They are reasonably healthy after an offseason filled with drama, but it remains to be seen if they can consistently generate a pass rush without Miller and if they can consistently protect quarterback Peyton Manning when they play their preferred three-wide receiver look on offense.

But Elway likes the choices they made.

“The bottom line is we kept the best 53,’’ Elway said. “Everyone says you want to win now, and I say we want to win now on.’’

Broncos cuts/moves: RB Lance Ball, C/G C.J. Davis, RB Jeremiah Johnson, C/G Ryan Lilja, TE Jake O’Connell, DE Jeremy Beal, C/G Philip Blake, T Paul Cornick, DT Romney Fuga, DT Ben Garland, CB Aaron Hester, LB Damien Holmes, WR Tavarres King, T Vinston Painter, S Ross Rasner, WR Gerell Robinson, WR Lamaar Thomas, DE John Youboty. DE Quanterus Smith, LB Stewart Bradley, LB Lerentee McCray were placed on injured reserve. LB Von Miller was placed on reserve/suspended.

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:30
PM ET
Most significant move: Marc Mariani came back from a vicious broken leg suffered in the preseason in 2012. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener cost him the rest of camp and the preseason, and the Titans put him in injured-reserve Saturday, ending his season. He might have been ready as soon as Week 3, but the Titans clearly didn't like the uncertainty. They could have waived him injured, exposing him to a claim. In that scenario, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who was instrumental in the Titans drafting the receiver/returner out of Montana in 2010, might have wanted him. But the Rams or anyone else would have had to have added him without getting to examine the injury, and Mariani's not under contract beyond this year so a new team could have been at risk for picking up a year's salary and getting nothing out of him. If he wasn’t claimed, he would have reverted to Tennessee’s IR. By putting Mariani directly on IR, he is assured of his $575,000 base salary this season but won’t play anywhere. The move means Darius Reynaud is the returner. He showed himself to be only the team’s fifth-best running back during camp, but sticks to handle punts and kickoffs.

Wildcard: If Rusty Smith clears waivers, the Titans will want the fourth-year quarterback back on their practice squad. He’s not been on the active roster for nine games in any of his first three seasons, so he retains his practice squad eligibility. If Smith is claimed, the Titans will need to find a young quarterback for the spot, who they can work to develop as insurance and who will be able to offer an option as the No. 2 if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick suffers an injury that results in any missed time. One team that won't claim Smith -- his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's next: I could see the Titans shopping for a veteran safety as they sift through cuts. Seventh-round pick Daimion Stafford is on the roster now, but the Titans are heavy with strong safeties and light at free safety. They’d probably like better balance and Stafford could ultimately land on the practice squad. With 10 defensive linemen plus strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers in line to play a good share of end, the last pure end -- Keyunta Dawson -- is hardly a lock at this point. Only one injured Titan, rookie linebacker Zaviar Gooden, is likely to miss the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Titans cuts: S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden (injured), DT Stefan Charles, DT Zach Clayton, TE Jack Doyle, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, S Corey Lynch, FB Collin Mooney, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Rashad Ross, LB Tim Shaw, QB Rusty Smith, LB-DE Scott Solomon, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins, LB Jonathan Willard, CB Khalid Wooten, C-G Fernando Velasco

Placed on Injured-reserve: WR/returner Marc Mariani.
Most significant move: The Steelers parted ways with Jonathan Dwyer, their leading rusher in 2012 and a player who looked like he would get a lot of carries for the first part of this season with Le'Veon Bell (foot) out and Isaac Redman hampered by a stinger. I thought the Steelers might keep an extra running back with Bell sidelined but injuries at tight end did not allow them to do that. The release of Dwyer is a signal that Redman will be fine for the regular-season opener and that the Steelers held him out of the last two preseason games as a precaution. It also shows they are comfortable with the smaller Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling complementing Redman, a power back, in the running game.

Unbalanced offense: The Steelers kept five receivers, including local product Derek Moye as their No. 5 wideout. Their 53-man roster also includes five tight ends, and they didn't have many other options than to keep that many players at the position. Heath Miller (knee) has been activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list but he won't be ready for the start of the regular season. The Steelers also didn't want to use their one exemption for the short-term injured-reserve list on Matt Spaeth (foot), which is why Michael Palmer joined David Johnson and David Paulson on the 53-man roster.

What's next: The Steelers, like every other team, will scour the waiver wire tonight to see if any available players can help them. It wouldn't surprise me if they look to bolster their depth along the offensive line, and Steelers fans are no doubt aware that Max Starks, the team's starting left tackle in 2012, was among those released by the Chargers. The Steelers kept only four cornerbacks, so they could be looking for help there. Teams are allowed to start signing players to their practice squad Sunday afternoon, and that is -- and should be -- a priority for the Steelers. There are a handful of developmental players, such as outside linebacker Alan Baxter, that I'm sure they would love to sign to their practice squad. And given the inevitability of injuries, they are going to need contributions from practice-squad players at some point during the season.

Players cut: RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Alvester Alexander; WR: Justin Brown, Reggie Dunn, Kashif Moore; TE: Jamie McCoy, Nathan Overbay; OL: Mike Golic Jr., Joe Long, Chris Hubbard, Joe Madsen; DL: Alameda Ta'amu, Brian Arnfelt; LB: Marshall McFadden, Alan Baxter, Brian Rolle, Terence Garvin; DB: Terry Hawthorne, Josh Victorian, Ross Ventrone, Devin Smith; P: Brian Moorman.

Houston Texans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
5:42
PM ET
Most significant move: Three draft picks were placed on injured reserve -- outside linebacker Trevardo Williams, offensive tackle Brennan Williams and receiver Alan Bonner. Bonner, a sixth-round pick, wasn't healthy at all throughout training camp, Brennan Williams, a third-round pick, had a knee injury that kept swelling any time the Texans tried to test it and Trevardo Williams, a fourth-round draft pick, had the kind of camp that just showed he wasn't ready. Once the pads came on, he slipped below Justin Tuggle and Willie Jefferson, two undrafted free-agent rookie linebackers who both made the 53-man roster. The Texans released a fourth draft pick -- nose tackle Chris Jones, who they want to place on the practice squad if he clears waivers. That's four drafted Texans who won't be on the opening active roster.

Onward and upward: A.J. Bouye, a cornerback out of UCF, made the roster as an undrafted rookie. He didn't have a flashy college career, but he came into Texans camp determined to prove he belonged. He's one of four undrafted rookies who made the team -- the most the Texans have ever had. Bouye got the nod over Roc Carmichael, a third-year cornerback out of Virginia Tech, who spent most of last season on the roster, but inactive for games.

What's next: Having kept three quarterbacks as expected, the Texans still have a decision to make on their order. Case Keenum and T.J. Yates battled throughout training camp and the preseason for that right. Yates is the incumbent and played well, especially after being pushed by Keenum. Keenum also had a strong preseason. His final game featured a mixture of great plays and poor ones. Of course, if the Texans need either one to play during the regular season, that will mean something happened to Matt Schaub and it won't be a good sign for the team.

Texans cuts: RB Deji Karim, RB Dennis Johnson, FB Tyler Clutts, WR Andy Cruse, WR EZ Nwachukwu, OL Tyler Horn, OL Nate Menkin, OL Alex Kupper, TE Jake Byrne, DL Cameron Collins, DL Keith Browner, DL Delano Johnson, DL Chris Jones, DB Jawanza Starling, DB Elbert Mack, DB Orhian Johnson, DB Roc Carmichael, Mike Mohamed

Placed on injured reserve: WR Alan Bonner, T Brennan Williams, OLB Trevardo Williams

Injury settlements: DL Daniel Muir, David Hunter, WR Mike Smith

Buffalo Bills cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
5:15
PM ET
Most significant move: The Buffalo Bills were expected to start fourth-year cornerback Crezdon Butler in Week 1 in place of an injured Stephon Gilmore. However, Butler played 54 defensive snaps in the preseason finale Thursday night, a sign that his roster status was in doubt. Slotting Butler as the starter was more out of necessity than anything else. With Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers hampered by injuries this preseason, the Bills found themselves extremely thin at the position. Butler did not help his cause by struggling against the Detroit Lions in Thursday's loss. He was released on Friday. Expect the Bills to turn to Rogers as their opening-day starter alongside McKelvin.

Deck cleared at quarterback, again: Besides Butler, the most notable players to be released were quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis. The Bills signed Leinart and traded for Lewis last Sunday, one day after Kevin Kolb suffered a serious concussion. As it turned out, neither made the roster. Leinart threw two interceptions in the first five possessions of the game, ending his night. Lewis fared better in the turnover category, but still completed only 44 percent of his passes, going 7-for-16 in the game.

What's next: The Bills' roster now stands at 50 players, giving them flexibility going into Saturday evening and Sunday. Nearly 100 players were waived on Friday, and it's possible the Bills placed a claim on one or more of them. If so, they could be awarded players off waivers at 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Hundreds more players will hit the waiver wire at that time, and the Bills can place claims on them up until noon Sunday. For players released who had four or more seasons of experience, Buffalo will be able to sign those players at any time. Either way, look for the Bills to be in the market at quarterback and cornerback.

Bills moves: Cut: QB Matt Leinart, QB Thad Lewis, RB Zach Brown, RB Kendall Gaskins, WR Brandon Kaufman, TE Dorin Dickerson, TE Nick Provo, T Zebrie Sanders, G Antoine Caldwell, G Zack Chibane, C David Snow, DL Jarron Gilbert, DL Torell Troup, DL Izaan Cross, OLB Jamie Blatnick, OLB Kourtnei Brown, OLB Keith Pough, ILB Bryan Scott, ILB Brian Smith, CB Crezdon Butler, CB T.J. Heath, CB Kip Edwards, S Jordan Dangerfield. Placed on injured reserve: QB Kevin Kolb, RB Drew Smith, WR Brad Smith.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider