Sep
2

Blount does enough to stick with Titans

Oregon rookie LeGarrette Blount is part of the Titans’ 53-man roster.

Tennessee has released running backs Samkon Gado — Blount’s biggest threat — and Alvin Pearman, leaving Blount as the No. 3.

Best known for being suspended following a post-game punch of a Boise State player last season — a transgression that led to him going undrafted — Blount had a solid preseason and will be the Titans’ short-yardage back. Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer are the top two running backs.

Steve Wyche

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Sep
1

Foley awaits next NFL chance

Former Canadian Football League star Ricky Foley‘s time with the Jets lasted just a few days — he was placed on waivers Friday afternoon. His time with New York might not be over, though.

Should the outside linebacker clear waivers today, there is a probability that he will be re-signed to the eight-man practice squad, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Though Foley would like to get claimed off waivers and be on a team’s 53-man final roster, the odds of that are slim.

Remaining with the Jets, albeit on the practice squad, is the next best alternative, the source said. Foley views the situation with the Jets as a positive, with playing in a 3-4 and getting to work with Jets coach Rex Ryan as major factors. The Jets also had interest in Foley before he signed a free-agent deal with Seattle this summer.

The Seahawks released Foley last week as they trimmed their roster to 75 players.

Steve Wyche

Sep
1

Last chance to make an impression

We’re winding down the 2010 version of On the Fringe and tonight’s final preseason games could be very important for all, but especially two of the four players we’ve followed. (San Diego wide receiver Gary Banks has been cut and is waiting for his next opportunity). Teams have to trim rosters to 53 players Saturday so the next few days for LeGarrette Blount, Ricky Foley, Alex Boone and Cody Grimm, will be precarious.

Let’s examine where our guys stand:

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tennessee Titans: He needs to show well when the Titans play host to the Saints. He figures to get some extended playing time, maybe as soon as late in the first quarter or early in the second.

The 240-pound Blount spent most of the preseason feeling pretty comfortable that he was the perfect short-yardage back. Then he got a dose of NFL reality when the Titans signed free agent Samkon Gado, who immediately played well — and ahead of Blount — in Tennessee’s Week 2, preseason victory over Arizona. Gado’s presence (19 yards on nine preseason carries) seemed to spur Blount (16 carries, 59 yards) but the undrafted rookie from Oregon needs to prove he’s more worthy than the fifth-year veteran.

I remember asking Blount during our initial interview for this project if he understood that teams can bring in players at any time to compete with him or replace him. I wasn’t sure if he understood the seriousness of it then. I’m sure he does now.

Chance to make the final roster: Pretty good

Ricky Foley, OLB, Jets: Foley was signed Tuesday after being cut by Seattle, so his knowledge of the Jets’ defense will be minimal, especially since they play a 3-4 scheme and he was working in a 4-3 front in Seattle. That change isn’t as easy as it seems.

I’d expect Foley to only be used on special teams and in some pass-rushing situations against the Eagles. He might get some extended action late. That’s not much time for the former Canadian Football League sack specialist to impress, so he better not waste a snap. He also needs to stay disciplined because Michael Vick can make you look bad on backside bootleg runs.

The Jets are looking for depth with OLB Calvin Pace out so Foley has a chance. The Jets clearly have had their eye on him, seeing as though they claimed him off waivers shortly after being released.

Chance to make the final roster: Questionable

Alex Boone, OT, 49ers: Boone will probably get in the game early and play extended snaps against visiting San Diego. Boone seems in really good position to make the team, having spent much of the preseason working as the No. 2 left tackle. The former practice squad player can’t afford to let down, though. He’s ascended up the depth chart, but a bad outing could show the coaching staff that maybe it doesn’t mean as much to him as they thought and he could get pushed back to the practice squad if there is a numbers crunch when rosters need to be trimmed.

Chance to make the final roster: Very good

Cody Grimm, S, Tampa Bay: Grimm has really turned heads over the past few weeks and is listed as the No. 2 free safety behind emerging standout Tanard Jackson. Grimm (eight tackles, one pass defensed) should play the majority of the game at safety and on special teams vs. Houston, which will test him repeatedly in the passing game.

Chance to make the final roster: Very good

Steve Wyche

Sep
0

Blount trying to deal with pressure

The clock is ticking for several players heading into tonight’s final slate of preseason games. A great performance could seal a roster spot, while a crucial mistake could land someone on the waiver wire.

Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount appears to be having a hard time focusing because of the pressure.

“It definitely weighs on your mind,” Blount told The Tennessean on Thursday, “the fact that this could be your job for the remainder of the year, and also it couldn’t. It is extremely hard to block it out. To be honest, I can’t block it out completely.”

Blount remains locked in a battle to make Tennessee’s 53-man roster with Samkon Gado, a veteran used fighting for a job, having been on five teams since coming into the league in 2005.

“When you worry about it, it affects your play,” Gado told The Tennessean. “I have learned as I’ve been in the league the most important thing is to make the most of your opportunity and not play on the defensive, play on the offensive.”

Blount and Gado will get to state their case one more time when the Titans host the Saints. Who will rise to the occasion?

Sep
0

Foley excited about second chance

Ricky Foley touched base late Tuesday night, shortly after joining the New York Jets, who claimed him off waivers after he was released by Seattle earlier this week. To say he’s stoked to get another opportunity in the NFL is an understatement.

“It’s on,” he texted me.

Foley is going to have to show some promise in a hurry. He’s in that purgatory of being a body to help the Jets finish out the final preseason game against Philadelphia on Thursday and being someone they feel has the potential to possibly provide depth at outside linebacker. Starter Calvin Pace is out for several weeks after fracturing his foot, and veteran Jason Taylor isn’t being counted on to be an every-down replacement.

Possibly working in Foley’s favor is moving to a 3-4 scheme in New York. Foley is more suited as an outside linebacker/situational pass rusher playing in space than he is an in-line defensive end. He struggled adjusting to playing on the line of scrimmage as an end in Seattle’s 4-3 front.

Also potentially helping Foley is that head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine were assistants with the Baltimore Ravens when Foley tried out for them in 2006. That history and Foley’s production in the CFL in 2009 (league-high 12 sacks) is why the Jets inquired about Foley before he signed with the Seahawks.

That said, Foley didn’t last long in Baltimore, and he ended up playing in the CFL with British Columbia until signing a free-agent deal with Seattle.

— Steve Wyche

Sep
0

No surprises in Banks’ release

As could almost be expected, wide receiver Gary Banks is taking the glass-half-full approach to being released Tuesday by the San Diego Chargers.

“When one door closes, others open,” Banks’ agent Bradley Hamilton told me late Tuesday night.

Hamilton said some teams have already reached out regarding Banks, but it didn’t sound like anything was imminent.

Banks’ release did not come as a surprise. Although the Chargers — particularly coach Norv Turner — loved Banks, he simply didn’t flash enough to give himself a legitimate chance. Turner told me that Banks didn’t do anything wrong, didn’t make mistakes and that his effort couldn’t be questioned.

That boils down to Banks simply not measuring up to the rest of the Chargers’ talent.

— Steve Wyche

Aug
0

Jets claim Foley off waivers

Ricky Foley, who was released by the Seahawks, was claimed off waivers by, of all teams, the New York Jets on Tuesday.

We say it like that because, via his Twitter page, Foley’s agent, Paul Sheehy, put the transaction this way: “From On The Fringe to Hard Knocks!”

Indeed, the move to the Jets means Foley might get a little exposure on the popular HBO series chronicling Jets training camp. Foley is getting a second chance after Seattle released him Monday.

Foley tried to make it as a defensive end with the Seahawks and was working behind Chris Clemons, Nick Reed and Dexter Davis.

Aug
0

Insider takes: Cuts around corner

With teams needing to cut down to 75 players by Tuesday and down to the final 53-man roster right around the corner, it’s crunch time for NFL.com’s On the Fringe guys.

We’ve already seen one casualty, as the Seahawks released Ricky Foley on Monday. Here’s how the rest stack up, according to the beat writers who have followed them daily during training camp and the preseason:

LeGarrette Blount has the bruising running style the Titans want for a change of pace to the lightning-quick Chris Johnson. Blount has the skills to be an effective runner in between the tackles, and is powerful enough to get the third-and-1 conversions. But the Titans already have a guy capable of doing those things in second-year back Javon Ringer.

Most people figured Blount entered training camp in a two-man battle with Stafon Johnson for a roster spot as the No. 3 back. When Stafon Johnson went down with a season-ending ankle injury, it opened the door for Blount even wider. Yet Blount has a lot to learn as a rookie, especially in pass protection. It’s why his chances of making this 53-man roster aren’t especially good. Blount’s best chance to stick around figures to be on the practice squad.

Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean

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Everybody knew Cody Grimm had the name, but what about his game? Turns out the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Russ Grimm has played well enough as a rookie to earn his way onto the Bucs’ roster and perhaps in the safety rotation.

“Guys’ seats are always on fire,” defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. “There’s always somebody ready to play and replace you.”

Grimm is one of those players. He is sixth on the team with nine tackles this preseason and may see more playing time with the concussion suffered by Sabby Piscitelli Saturday against Jacksonvolle.

Grimm still has room for improvement. Against the Jags, he entered the game in the third quarter and made a touchdown-saving tackle on Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas after an 18-yard gain. He also broke up a pass in the end zone to Thomas on second-and-goal. But on special teams, Grimm had a block in the back that wound up costing the Bucs 26 yards of field position.

Two steps forward and one back, but Grimm is moving in the right direction.

Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times

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Alex Boone remade himself as a versatile offensive tackle this past offseason, with 49ers coach Mike Singletary calling his transformation “very impressive.”

The easy part? Shedding 40 pounds after being out of shape as a practice squad rookie.

The hard part has been switching sides to right tackle. His 305-pound frame is better fit to handle all the pulling he does in the run game, and he’s playing stronger after a summer spent in the weight room. But he’s up against veteran Barry Sims as the resident swing tackle, which probably spells another year on the practice squad.

David White, San Francisco Chronicle

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While Gary Banks has had a solid, productive training camp, it’s been a bit too quiet. He goes about his business in a professional, yet unspectacular manner that helps him blend in when, in fact, he needs to stand out.

Banks doesn’t get chided for mistakes, but he doesn’t get singled out either. That puts him on the chopping block, especially on a Chargers team with so few open spots.

The Chargers do like Banks and his work ethic, which means the wide receiver might get cut on Tuesday to give him the best chance of landing with another team.

Scott Bair, North County Times

Aug
5

Seahawks release Foley

Defensive end Ricky Foley has been released by the Seattle Seahawks, his agent, Paul Sheey, has told The Vancouver Sun.

The move comes as teams begin to trim their rosters down to 75 players by the Tuesday deadline.

Sheey indicated that there is interest by other teams in signing Foley.

    “He either gets awarded to another NFL team via waivers at 1 p.m. today (Aug. 30), or he clears waivers and is a free agent as of that time,” Sheehy told The Sun. “All signs point to him being in an NFL uniform tomorrow (Tuesday), but we’ll have to wait and see how the process plays itself out today.”

Foley has an uphill climb to earn a spot on a team’s 53-man roster. Foley is attempting to make the difficult transition from the Canadian Football League to the NFL.

Aug
0

Blount takes heavy dose of hazing

The Tennessee Titans capped training camp with some rookie hazing on Thursday.

It was probably to be expected that rookie running back LeGarrette Blount would take a heavy dose of hazing. Blount had at least three water coolers get dumped over his head, The Tennessean reports.

    “He has become a very popular teammate,” coach Jeff Fisher said of Blount.