It's the time of year for NFL neophytes to worry
NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints cut their roster down to 66 on Saturday after releasing 11 players.
The NFL requires teams to trim their rosters to 65 by Tuesday. On Sept. 5 they must trim them to 53.
The Saints released tight end Kyle Acker; running back Tavian Banks; wide receiver Kerwin Cook, fullback Dan Curran; wide receiver Thabiti Davis; offensive lineman Shawn Draper; wide receiver Terrell Harris, running back Ronney Jenkins; punter Mark Mariscal; tackle Chris McKelvy and quarterback Ryan Sorahan.
With more cuts pending, the remaining rookies will have to prove themselves.
"I need to stay focused on what I'm doing and try to make it past the cuts," said Colby Bockwoldt, the New Orleans Saints' seventh-round draft pick this spring out of Brigham Young.
He had hoped to show his stuff in the final preseason game against Chicago. But the first team played into the fourth quarter, rather than playing the expected cameo role.
When camp closed on Wednesday, rookies knew that left them with limited time to show their stuff.
"I know it's going to come down to the wire and it's a tough thing, but you can't worry about it or it will be a distraction. That's something that could hurt you now," said Nathan Black, a wide receiver from Northwestern State.
Training camp was a whirlwind for fullback Curan, who was cut on Saturday. He played for the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League and had only about four weeks off before reporting to the Saints.
He had tried to stay focused, not worrying about being tired or feeling bad because, he said, "if you're not out there everyday, it will hurt you."
Kyle Acker, a tight end out of Salsbury State who didn't make the cut, knew that as well. That's why he worried about the three days he missed with a sprained ankle. It's also why he was back at work this week even with it still hurting him.
All the rookies have known that special teams could be their ace in the hole.
"On this football team you have to be able to contribute," said special teams coach Al Everest. "No one stands around. We even have three starters on special teams and certainly players that aren't starters have to be able to contribute there."
That means along with learning the offense or defense, depending on their position, players must learn what to do on special teams and when they get in they must play well.
"That can be hard on some guys," Everest said. "All of these guys are used to being stars on their high school and college teams. This is like starting over as a freshman."
The Saints came into camp with 87 players; they'll go into the season with 34 fewer.
"That's hard to accept," Bockwoldt said. "But the first thing you learn here is that it's a business. It's a cut throat business and you have to do everything you can to get into it."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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