Friday NFL preview: Tim Tebow stars, others stumble as final cuts loom

Tebow stages another late comeback

Tim Tebow turned in his best performance in the Eagles' final preseason game. NFL Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan says that, with two touchdown passes against the New York Jets, Tebow may have won his competition with Matt Barkley for a roster spot.

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Wednesday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills' biggest roster decision will come at backup quarterback, where they must decide whether to keep Matt Cassel and his $4.15 million base salary. If the Bills cut Cassel, they could either stick with two quarterbacks -- Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel -- or keep Matt Simms as their No. 3. The latter option seems unlikely after Simms turned the ball over three times in Thursday's preseason finale, including a baffling decision to throw the ball backward as he was being sacked. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins will turn their attention to roster cuts and must release 22 players by Saturday. One player who was on the hot seat but certainly helped his cause is cornerback Will Davis, who recorded two interceptions in the preseason finale against the Buccaneers. Miami has a lot of young corners and must decide if Davis is worth keeping, or if they can find a trade partner for him. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: Players are off after Thursday's preseason finale and Bill Belichick and coordinators Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense) are scheduled to hold conference calls. Belichick said the focus now completely turns to the season-opener against the Steelers on Sept. 10, and the Patriots will also use time Friday to make roster moves that ultimately lead to the forming of their 53-man roster. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets The Jets will take Friday to mull their final cuts; they have to trim 22 spots by Saturday's deadline. They have an interesting decision at quarterback: Matt Flynn or Josh Johnson? It could be a matter of style. Flynn is a pocket passer who threw a pair of touchdowns during the preseason finale. Johnson can make plays with his legs; he gained 76 yards on seven carries Thursday night. To save money, the Jets might even release both players before the first game and go with rookie Bryce Petty as the backup quarterback, thus avoiding having to pay a guaranteed salary for the season to Flynn or Johnson, who are vested veterans. All the Jets need is someone who can run the offense if something happens to Ryan Fitzpatrick while Geno Smith recovers from his broken jaw. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Backup quarterback Matt Schaub ended a rocky summer with a perfect preseason finale. In one quarter of work, he went 7-for-7 for 88 yards, including a 42-yard toss to Marlon Brown. The Ravens hope that's the last time Schaub has to start a game this season -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals will have Friday off before learning their fates from coaches Saturday morning. The meetings that will go on between coaches, team president Mike Brown and other members of the front office. Cincinnati's 53-man roster will be chock full of debate, as usual. Some of the discussion should hinge around Vontaze Burfict, as the team tries to determine where the injured linebacker fits in relation to the formation of the remainder of the roster.  -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel gets another day of rest for his ailing elbow as the Cleveland Browns take Friday off following the preseason finale in Chicago. Manziel and the team say rest, ice and therapy will clear up the tendinitis that has sidelined Manziel the past two days.  -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Friday's practice sparks the official preparation for Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Steelers don't have to wonder which quarterback they are facing. The Steelers need to scheme a way for James Harrison, Cam Heyward & Co. to get after Brady early. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans worked to sort out their running backs on Thursday, resting running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes to take a closer look at Chris Polk and rookie Kenny Hilliard. The winner between the two will make the roster, and if Hilliard doesn't, he's a good practice squad candidate. Polk looked smooth for the Texans, scoring their first touchdown against the Cowboys, making a 16-yard catch on a pass thrown by quarterback Tom Savage. Polk caught all of his first four targets for 37 yards. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts suddenly have concerns about their depth at running back behind starter Frank Gore. Vick Ballard (hamstring) and Daniel "Boom" Herron (shoulder) both left Thursday's game against Cincinnati with injuries. Rookie running back Josh Robinson didn't play against the Bengals because he's still going through the concussion protocol. The Colts didn't have to worry about Gore getting injured because he didn't play. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars will begin the process of trimming the roster to 53 Friday. It begins by evaluating film from Thursday night's preseason game against Washington. Some of the bubble players the Jaguars will discuss include CB Nick Marshall, WR Bryan Walters, G/T Sam Young and RB Storm Johnson. The roster must be finalized by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Titans inside linebacker Zach Brown played into the second quarter Thursday against Minnesota, the lone member of the starting defense to do so. Ken Whisenhunt said after a poor defensive showing in Kansas City that some players had earned an opportunity to play more in the finale. Brown did better with the extra time. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: After Thursday night's preseason finale, it's clear the team's most difficult decisions are at linebacker. Even with the ability to keep an extra player there because safety T.J. Ward and defensive end Derek Wolfe will begin the season on reserve/suspended, it's crowded and the Broncos will be cutting loose one or two players at the position they think can play in the league. Lamin Barrow, Corey Nelson and Lerentee McCray are likely fighting for two spots. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs can finally turn their undivided attention to the Sept. 13 regular-season opener at the Houston Texans. They will huddle Friday to decide on the final 22 roster moves and the makeup of the 53-player roster they will take to Houston. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: One area the Raiders may be scouring the waiver wire for in the coming days is the offensive line. The second- and third-team units played the entire game in Seattle and were awful. Oakland may need to some fine-tuning on the bottom of that unit. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and most of the starters did not play in the team's final preseason game on the road at Levi's Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers. General manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy watched the game on the plane ride home, as the duo begins the process of putting together the team's final 53-man roster. Telesco said a handful of jobs remain up for grabs, and Thursday's game served as a final opportunity for players to make their case to be on the roster. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys front office, scouts and coaches will be busy the next three days but the players will be off for the next three days. They return to work on Monday as they begin their most in-depth preparation for the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 13. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: Sixth-round draft pick Geremy Davis is all but certain to make the team. He has done everything the coaches have asked on special teams and has shown something as a receiver when given the chance. He caught a 40-yard pass from Ryan Nassib on the right sideline in the second half -- after the defensive back fell down -- and had a strong all-around game during the preseason finale. With Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris all locks, Davis makes five and leaves only one or maybe two open roster spots at wide receiver. That makes a tough next couple of days for guys like James Jones, Preston Parker and 2014 preseason star Corey Washington, who missed Thursday's game with a shoulder injury. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Friday could be the day we find out if Tim Tebow is successful in his attempt to return to the NFL. Chip Kelly said he planned to make his final roster cuts Friday, a day before Saturday's deadline. Tebow threw two touchdown passes against the Jets Thursday night in his final preseason game. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be tested by an independent neurologist Friday, perhaps determining his future in Washington. If Griffin is cleared of any concussion symptoms, then there's a chance Washington would cut their one-time franchise savior. If he's cut, Griffin would still count $6.7 million against the salary cap. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears kept Alshon Jeffery (calf strain) tucked away from the media for close to two weeks, but Jeffery emerged from hiding on Thursday when he played a light game of catch on the Soldier Field turf prior to the preseason finale versus the Browns. Jeffery did not attend any of the Bears' practices at Halas Hall since the club broke camp. Instead, Jeffery spent his days rehabbing inside the facility. Jeffery seemed in good spirits on Thursday, and even spent 20-plus minutes socializing with teammates around midfield. The Bears remain confident that Jeffery will be available in Week 1 versus the Green Bay Packers, but the former Pro Bowl wideout has not practiced since Aug. 12. Fellow injured receivers Eddie Royal (hip) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring) also did pregame work on Thursday. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Detroit Lions players will have a long last weekend before the regular season begins. And for many of them, it'll be a nervous one. Jim Caldwell said earlier this week there were still some decisions to be made on players and a lot of those moves will likely be finalized Friday, including at receiver, returner, linebacker and tight end. Those are four spots where there could be some intrigue during Saturday's cuts. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: When the coaches and scouts review the film from Thursday's preseason finale against the Saints, they will see some impressive performances from the backup receivers and running backs who were fighting for the final roster spots. Among those who could make the cut-down process difficult are receivers Myles White and Jared Abbrederis along with running backs Alonzo Harris and John Crockett. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: While coaches and decision-makers meet to finalize the Vikings' 53-man roster, players get a few days off following the final preseason game. That will give kicker Blair Walsh a chance to clear his head; Walsh went 5-for-11 on field goals in five preseason games, also missing an extra point. He got a contract extension in training camp, so his job isn't in danger, but he'll need to snap out of a funk before the start of the regular season. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: One of the positive signs for the Falcons on Thursday night didn't even involve a particular play during the game. Veteran wide receiver Roddy White, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, was on the field with his teammates during pregame warmups. White is expected to start some activity next week with the goal of being available for the Sept. 14 opener against Philadelphia. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers will have tough calls to make at wide receiver and running back as they head into Saturday's cut to 53 players. Corey Brown began the preseason as a starting wide receiver, but he caught only two passes on 12 targets for 14 yards. He had six drops. Did he do enough? Undrafted rookie running back Brandon Wegher led Carolina backs with three preseason touchdowns. He rushed for 64 yards on 17 carries on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. But did he do enough? These are the questions the staff faces.  -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have a lot of tough decisions to make on the back end of their roster over the next two days, especially at wide receiver, defensive line and kicker. But the much more important information that will be revealed is the status of injured defenders Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Will any or all of them begin the season on short-term injured reserve or the PUP list, or are the Saints expecting quicker returns? -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Undrafted rookie Kyle Brindza, who was acquired in a trade this week, might have done enough to win the kicking job over Patrick Murray and Connor Barth. Brindza made field goals of 57 and 55 yards and looked good on kickoffs during Thursday night's preseason victory in Miami. The Bucs have until Saturday afternoon to trim their roster to 53 players and Brindza may have earned himself a spot. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals will find out the severity of tight end Gerald Christian's left knee injury. He suffered it in the second quarter and left the sideline on a cart. Without Christian, Arizona is left with two healthy tight ends -- Darren Fells and Ifeanyi Momah -- heading into the first week of the season. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams actually played the majority of their starters in the preseason finale, though only for a couple of series. But they made it through the game without any notable injuries to projected starters, which is the biggest win you can have in an exhibition contest. Most important, quarterback Nick Foles made it through all four games without any issues and the Rams will be able to start the regular season with their starting signal-caller for the first time since 2013. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Cuts are expected to start being made Friday to get the roster down to 53 players by Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. And while it did not appear as though anyone played themselves out of a job in the Niners' exhibition finale against the San Diego Chargers, Bruce Ellington, Jarryd Hayne and DeAndrew White seemingly solidified their spots. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider will begin the process of trimming the roster to 53 players. They may have to do so under the assumption that Kam Chancellor won't be around for Week 1. Preparation for the Rams begins with a practice on Monday. The deadline for getting Chancellor in is looming, meaning the next couple days could be crucial. -- Sheil Kapadia