The final week of the NFL preseason is here. Last week teams had to trim their rosters down to 80 players. Most former Mountaineers made it through the first round of cuts with the exception of Jock Sanders in Tampa Bay. He was released after competing for ht e starting kick return job. He led the Bucs in punt returns averaging 11.3 yards on 7 returns with a long of 21. He also had several nice kick returns during the first three weeks of the preseason, but that wasn't enough to preserve a spot on the roster.
After this weekend, teams will have to make even more drastic cuts as they go from 80 players down to 53. Many teams will cut enough players to move below 53 as they will look to the waiver wire to fill holes on hteir rosters. Take the Carolina Panthers for example. They have huge holes in their defense at DT and CB. They expected rookie S Brandon Hogan to provide support, but he is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last December. He has still not practiced with the team, and is likely to begin the season on IR or the PUP list. If he is put on IR, he will not play this season. Being placed on the PUP list would signal that the Panthers think that he'll be ready to play after the first six weeks of the season.
There are several former Mountaineers that are on their respective roster bubbles. I spoke with Scooter Berry earlier this week, who is in a battle with Shaun Cody for a spot on the Texans roster. He told me he should find out on Friday if he has a place on the roster. Others like Wes Lyons, Mortty Ivy, and Sidney Glover are in similar predicaments.
This is the week of the Preseason in which starters usually only play a few series, if at all. Those with their roster spots assured will not play much. Others fighting for position on rosters will see extended playing time. Many have proven to coaches what they are capable of in practice, but for some, this is their last, best chance to show their mettle.
Now for this week's game previews involving former Mountaineers. All of the games involving former Mountaineers are tonight.
Thursday, September 1
Pittsburgh Steelers vs.
I told you about Brandon Hogan's situation with the Panthers above. For the Steelers, Ryan Mundy's spot is assured, and his performance during this preseason could award him with extended playing time this year. Mortty Ivy, by all reports, has shined in practices and played well in games. His fight for a linebacker spot could come down to a numbers game. Do the Steelers keep 8 linebackers? They could. The numbers game may also work against Wes Lyons. The Steelers love his 6'8" size and his ability to catch everything thrown his way. However, he has never been a speedster, and his route-running still needs work. The Steelers have already cut one of Lyon's competitors at the WR slot in Limas Sweed.
Steve Slaton returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the first three weeks of the Preseason with a pulled hamstring. Texans' Head Coach, Gary Kubiak, has not said whether Slaton will play tonight, but they hope that he will be able to go. Rumors abound that the Texans have wanted to showcase Slaton throughout the Preseason in hopes of finding a trade partner. Scooter Berry should see extended playing time on the defensive line for Houston. The Texans' defensive line coach, Bill Kollar, has singled out Berry for his intensity in practices, and he has held his own during games. He returned a fumble for 34 yards two weeks ago against the Saints.
Pacman Jones is likely to start the season on the PUP list while still recovering from neck surgery. Robert Sands will likely see a lesser role than expected after the Bengals traded for former 2nd Round pick, Taylor Mays, last week. He should play most of the game tonight. Pat McAfee leads the NFL in punting during the Preseason for the Colts.
After a 4/4 and 1TD passing performance last week, Jarrett Brown could play the entire second half tonight. He had a rough first two weeks of the preseason, but he shook that off and played very well against the Eagles. Head coach, Pat Schurmur, loves Browns arm strength and mobility and sees him as a perfect 3rd QB. NFL.com's Vic Carucci, thinks that Brown can have a solid future in the NFL if he lands with the right team. J.T. Thomas has had some injury troubles during the preseason, but has played well enough in practices to solidify his spot on the Bears' roster. When the regular season begins, Thomas will see the majority of his playing time on special teams and backing up at the strongside linebacker postion.
Corey McIntyre will be the starting fullback for the Bills this season and continue to provide strong special teams play. Sidney Glover has shown well when he has been on the field during the preseason, but there may not be enough room on the roster when final cuts come down.
Anthony Becht signed last week with the Chiefs. He told me that practice is going well thus far, and that he will be in the game tonight against the Packers.
Selvish Capers is in a fight to remain on the Redskins' roster. He hasn't shown up in games, and had reportedly not performed well in practices. Chris Neild has had an up and down preseason in the respect that he has, at times, done things to cause coaches to raise their eyebrows in surprise or satisfaction, but has also made those same eyebrows furrow when he misses a read of his footwork isn't fast enough. Neild showed well last week, and a strong showing this week in what should be extended playing time will go a long way to deciding if he belongs on the final roster or not.
Darius Reynaud is in a numbers game. Last season, his position on the team was kick returner. It looks as though he has been supplanted by Devin Thomas. He was labeled as one of the surprises in Giants camp early on, but injury problems since then, and the inability for his hard work off the field to translate into results on it may have hurt his chances to make the final roster. He needs to have a good game against the Patriots tonight.