Johnson ends preseason in style

With one last chance to convince Vikings coaches that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster, rookie RB Ian Johnson was at his best.

Johnson’s stats against the Cowboys were outstanding — 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go along with 26 receiving yards — but it was the matter in which he compiled them that was even more noticeable.

Despite being taken to the ground awkwardly on a second-quarter tackle and seemingly rolling his ankle, Johnson was unfazed, unhurt and continued to play with no hesitation. He showed prescient vision on many of his runs and bulldozed defenders into the end zone on his two touchdowns. He also demonstrated soft hands, catching all three passes thrown his way.

Whether or not it was enough to earn Johnson that coveted roster spot remains to be seen, but he definitely did all he could to make it hard on the Vikings to let him go.

Even if Johnson is cut Saturday (Albert Lee, with whom he is competing, also played well, rushing for 55 yards), he most likely will be brought back to the Vikings as a practice-squad player.

Of course, with the way Johnson closed the preseason, another team might choose to sign him to its active roster before Minnesota has a chance to put him on the practice squad.

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Long makes Cardinals’ 53-man roster

Lance Long is one of seven wide receivers to make the Cardinals’ final roster, as the team trimmed its roster to 53 players Friday.

Long joins Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet, Larry Fitzgerald, Sean Morey and Jerheme Urban on the Cardinals’ final roster. Ed Gant, Onrea Jones and Steve Sanders — who had been competing with Long in training camp for roster spots — were released.

Among the notable cuts by the Cardinals include safety Aaron Francisco, who was victimized on Santonio Holmes’ Super Bowl XLIII-winning touchdown catch, and TE Leonard Pope, who started in Super Bowl XLIII.

Other players released by the Cardinals include: LB Chase Bullock, G Trevor Canfield, FB Tim Castille, CB Jameel Dowling, DT Deilen Dykes, DE Alex Field, CB Wilrey Fontenot, C Melvin Fowler, LB Victor Hobson, LB David Holloway, DT Rodney Leisle, FB Reagan Maui’a, G Carlton Medder, QB Tyler Palko, OT Oliver Ross and RB Chris Vincent.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said an injury to Doucet, out with fractured ribs, figured in the decision to keep seven wide receivers.

“With Early in his situation and not being sure about when he’ll be able to play,” Whisenhunt said, “it made that decision critical.” Full story …

Wide receiver Lance Long has made the 53 man roster for the Arizona Cardinals. (Paul Connors / Associated Press)

WR Lance Long has made the Cardinals' 53-man roster. (Paul Connors / Associated Press)


Manning: Tyree ‘a great teammate’

Eli Manning and David Tyree combined to create one of the most memorable moments in NFL history two seasons ago when the underdog Giants upset the then-undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

As the 6 p.m. ET Saturday roster cut-down deadline looms, Manning took time to discuss the frustrating summer experienced by Tyree, a player who has meant much for the QB’s career and forever will be remembered by Giants fans for his Super Bowl effort. However, Tyree could be released as the Giants trim their roster to 53 players.

“David is a guy who really conducts himself at a true professional level,” Manning said in a conference call with reporters. “He always has a great attitude. He is always in great spirits. He is great with the young receivers or all the receivers, on working with them or trying to be a good example. He practices as hard as anybody. He has been a great teammate, a great friend of mine since I have gotten here.

“Honestly, I will always have a special place in my heart, not only because of the play he made in the Super Bowl, but just the person he is and the friend he has been for me. I don’t know what is going to happen in the next day or two — it’s a tough situation — but he has been a great teammate, and we just have to see what is going to happen.”


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Long could get cut Friday

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic believes that the Arizona Cardinals could make roster cuts Friday, and doesn’t like the chances of Lance Long:

    I don’t like the chances of tight end Leonard Pope or receiver Lance Long. Pope was the last tight end used on Thursday, I believe. I think the Cardinals will take their chances at releasing Long and re-signing him to the practice squad.

Long had just one catch in the Cardinals’ preseason finale against the Denver Broncos. Long completed the preseason with 10 catches for 110 yards (Complete statistics). Full story …


Wire makes presence felt for Falcons

Falcons LB Coy Wire didn’t have a huge statistical game in a 20-3 loss to the Ravens on Thursday night, but he still made some plays.

Wire had two tackles and was a steadying force among his younger Falcons teammates for much of the second and third quarters.

Whether it was enough to earn Wire an eighth NFL season will be revealed by Saturday, when rosters must be cut down to 53 players.

Coy Wire's effort vs. the Ravens could factor into whether or not the Falcons keep him on the roster. (Paul Abell / Associated Press)

Coy Wire's effort vs. the Ravens could factor into whether or not the Falcons keep him on the roster. (Paul Abell / Associated Press)


Tyree’s days as a Giant could be numbered

After missing the Giants’ final preseason game — a 38-27 loss to the Patriots — WR David Tyree‘s chances of making the 53-man roster are slim. Tyree is nursing an injured hamstring that has kept him out of the Giants’ final three preseason games.

Tyree finished the preseason without a single reception after appearing in only one game. With younger receivers Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham both stepping up Thursday night — Moss caught two passes, both for touchdowns, and Manningham led the team with four catches for 74 yards — Tyree might have played his last game in a Giants uniform.


D-day looming for Long

In his final attempt to make the Cardinals’ 53-man roster, Lance Long had only one catch for nine yards in a 19-0 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Long, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet are expected to be in the mix for the Cardinals’ final two wide receiver spots.

Urban had two catches for 33 yards, and Morey had two for 11 yards. Doucet didn’t play because of a rib injury he suffered during last week’s loss to the Packers.


Johnson ready to make final push

Heading into Friday’s preseason finale against the Cowboys, which will be shown live on NFL Network (8 p.m. ET), Vikings RB Ian Johnson provided a diary about this being his possible make-or-break game, with the final 53-man roster cuts coming Saturday.

Going into the big game this Friday, I can be nothing but thankful. Thankful to a lot of people: the fans at Boise State, the fans I’ve met out here in Minnesota, the fans I haven’t met, my coaches, fellow players, my family, my wife, and, of course, and NFL Network for doing this with me.

I look back on this whole process and smile. I’ve had a great chance to put who I really am on tape. I really have a lot of good stuff on tape, and no matter what, that’s all that matters. What I put on tape is all I can control. Like all the older guys say here, who you are is what you put on tape, and what’s on tape is your audition not only for your own team but the rest of the teams in the NFL as well.

Friday night, I plan on adding one more piece to my resume. I’m going to go out there to play, to have fun and to take home a position on a team. I don’t control what team that is, but I know I have what it takes to play at this level. And I know that whatever role a head coach gives me, I will more than live up to it.


Final countdown to 53 is on

Ian Johnson, Lance Long, Coy Wire and David Tyree are all on the bubble to make the final 53 on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Ian Johnson, Lance Long, Coy Wire and David Tyree are all on the bubble to make the final 53-man rosters. (Associated Press)

With the cut-down deadline just two days away, the final four of the “On The Fringe” players get one last chance to make an impression with their teams.

Unfortunately, one of those four — David Tyreewill sit out the Giants’ preseason finale against the Patriots.

As for the Cardinals’ Lance Long, the Falcons’ Coy Wire and the Vikings’ Ian Johnson, the final countdown to 53 is on.

Wire takes to the field at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday night as the Falcons take on the Ravens at the Georgia Dome. NFL Network will re-air the game on Friday at 10 a.m. ET.

Long continues his quest to squeeze into the Cardinals’ crowded receiving corps when his team visits Invesco Field at Mile High to take on the Broncos. NFL Network will re-air the game on Friday at 1 a.m. ET.

Johnson’s final opportunity to win the hearts and minds of his coaches will take place on Friday night at the H.H.H. Metrodome, when the Vikings take on the Cowboys. The game will be broadcast live on NFL Network, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. ET.

You can also keep track of the “On The Fringe” players’ fates on NFL Network, which will air a 90-minute roster cuts special starting at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.