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
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
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
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