The Lions will cut 22 players today to get to the 53-man limit before the 6 PM deadline. I will monitor the transactions wire and post the cuts as they come here, along with my reaction if one is merited.
Two early names that hit the wire are Chris Greenwood and Corey Fuller.
Greenwood was the 5th round pick in 2012 but missed all of last year and most of this preseason with injuries. In his first real extended action against Buffalo on Thursday night, Greenwood was the worst player on the field for either team, and the Bills are not deep at all. He desperately needs seasoning on the practice squad, but I wouldn’t cry if another team claims Greenwood. He’s a small-school athlete who lacks even rudimentary coverage instincts and skills at this point.
Corey Fuller was drafted in the 6th round this year and is also clearly more of a long-term project. The Lions knew that going in, and here at DetroitLionsDraft we’ve tried to convey that as well. His best shot at making the team was as a return man, but that didn’t pan out at all. Unlike Greenwood, the Lions should hope he clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad. There is legit football talent to work with in Fuller, but he needs time to develop that skill.
Seventh round pick Brandon Hepburn was also waived. Like Fuller, he was not expected to make the 53-man roster as a rookie. Don’t sweat the fact the late-round draft picks aren’t making the team right away; that’s a sign that the depth is stronger than expected. It took a lot of free agent movement to make that happen, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Add safety Amari Spievey to the cut list, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. If this move surprises you, you haven’t been watching Speivey close enough. Classic tweener safety/corner, too slow-twitch to pay corner and not physical or rangy enough to be an effective safety.
Punter Blake Clingan tweeted that he is no longer a Lion. He wasn’t bad at all, just not better than Sam Martin. I suspect we’ll see Clingan resurface somewhere else as he has legit NFL skills.
Ron Bartell is probably the most notable cut so far, as he was a projected starter as recently as two weeks ago. Rashean Mathis stole his thunder, and it didn’t help Bartell that he was badly exposed in man coverage in the Patriots game. My gut reaction is that the team chose the younger, cheaper, higher potential of Jonte Green over the oft-injured veteran Bartell.
Other cuts include OL Darren Keyton, DE Xavier Proctor, LB Jon Morgan, S Martavius Neloms, OL Rodney Austin, and OL Kevin Haslam.
Austin really disappointed me in preseason; I thought his athleticism would serve him well but he just wasn’t physical or disciplined enough. And by discipline I mean carrying out assignments, not avoiding trouble.
Neloms was waived/injured, which means he can revert to IR if nobody claims him. Let’s hope that happens; he showed some real potential as a cover safety.
Keyton figures to land on the practice squad. He was better than expected in camp.
Mid Afternoon Update #2
G Jake Scott, S Tyrell Johnson, RB/KR Steven Miller all cut.
Scott played very well during the preseason. In fact he dominated both New England and Buffalo. I suspect he fell victim to the high expectations surrounding rookie Larry Warford, who appears to have won the starting RG job. Dylan Gandy and Leroy Harris stick as the interior reserves because they can both play multiple spots, whereas Scott was strictly a right guard. I’m surprised Harris made it, to be honest…assuming he does in fact make it.
Johnson is the first name to come across that I thought had made the team. With his release, the Lions are keeping just four safeties. Technically John Wendling is the 5th safety but they’ll go street shopping before playing him in more than emergency duty on defense; his value is exclusively on special teams.
Miller lost the return job to Micheal Spurlock, who had more value as a depth WR than Miller did at RB. Neither separated out as returners during the preseason. In my live game blog over at Bleacher Report I compared Miller’s running style to former Lion Aaron Brown, and I still like that line.
The final cuts announced were heavy on the D-line. Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen and Andre Fluellen were all cut. All of those were widely expected. Saddler-McQueen is likely to latch on somewhere else after a very strong preseason, but the new additions at DT offered more. Fluellen has probably hit the end of his NFL career unless he can hook up with frequent patron Rod Marinelli in Dallas.
The biggest surprise of the day in my eyes was wideout Matt Willis. Detroit kept six wide receivers, but 6th wideout Micheal Spurlock is generally presumed to be just a return specialist. The Lions chose Kris Durham over Willis, a decision I would not have made. Both the catches that Willis made against the Jets are plays that Kris Durham can’t even make in his wettest dreams.
All the Lions beat writers have reported, and I don’t know or care who said it first, that FB/RB Montell Owens will be placed on the IR/return list soon. That will eventually open up a roster spot for the first few weeks. Look for that spot to get filled by either a wide receiver or a safety.
A quick guess at the 8-man practice squad:
Corey Fuller, Brandon Hepburn, Darren Keyton, Chris Greenwood, Rodney Austin from the cuts today, plus a mobile QB, a slot-type WR/KR, and a defensive lineman. Note that Saddler-McQueen and Nwagbuo do not have practice squad eligibility remaining.
Tags: Amari Spievey, Andre Fluellen, Brandon Hepburn, Chris Greenwood, Corey Fuller, Darren Keyton, Jake Scott, Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, Jon Morgan, Martavius Neloms, Matt Willis, Rodney Austin, Ron Bartell, Steven Miller, Tyrell Johnson