Steve Wyche takes a look back at the five wild rides we witnessed this summer as Ian Johnson, Lance Long, David Tyree, Boomer Grigsby, and Coy Wire fought for their NFL lives.
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.
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 Tyree — will 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.
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.
Game time is 10 p.m. ET, but a high-definition replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Saturday at 1 a.m. ET, Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, Wednesday at 12 a.m. ET and again on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
Long leads the Cardinals this preseason in receptions (8) and yards receiving (89).
Here is a look at the other On The Fringe players in action during this weekend’s preseason games …
Coy Wire will continue to make his case to make the Atlanta Falcons’ final roster when the San Diego Chargers visit the Georgia Dome on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A high-definition replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Monday at 7 a.m. ET.
The Giants take on the team they share a stadium with, the Jets, on Saturday. However, David Tyree is not expected to play due to a hamstring injury. Tyree has yet to register a reception this preseason, with his last catch coming on that unforgettable play in Super Bowl XLII.
Ian Johnson‘s quest to make the Minnesota Vikings’ final roster hits prime-time TV, when his team takes on the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Monday at 8 p.m. ET. A replay of the game can be seen on NFL Network on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. Johnson has gotten a good look through two preseason games, rushing 15 times for 59 yards, while catching three passes for 33 yards.
Our most experienced On the Fringe player, Falcons linebacker Coy Wire, has been keeping a diary of his training camp and preseason experiences. He shares his thoughts leading up to Atlanta’s preseason home opener Saturday vs. San Diego.
Friday, Aug. 14, 2009: We are on our way to Detroit for our first preseason game. It should be an exciting trip. First time back in real live action since our playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. The starters will be playing the entire first quarter. I’m going to be playing the second quarter and most of the third. I will play the Will LB in the base packages and the outside LB in our nickel packages, but the coaches also are going to have me play the middle LB in the nickel package. I’ve been getting a lot of reps at middle LB in our nickel package in practice. I really enjoy that position because you are in control of the huddle, you take the calls from our defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, and you make all the calls and adjustments before the play begins. It’s a lot of responsibility but I like it because it forces me to really study and know the plays inside and out. Not only do I have to get myself lined up, but I also must help get the other players lined up according to what play we are calling. I really enjoy that position because you are in the heart of the action on every play. I’ve been working hard and focusing on improving every day, so I am excited and thankful for the opportunity to show myself and others that I am getting better.
Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009: I had a good game in Detroit. I had two special teams tackles and five more on defense. It was my first time playing the middle LB in the nickel package in a live-game situation. Being it was my first time playing that position, I am happy with the outcome, but I am excited to continue studying the position and learn all the intricacies of it.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009: Yesterday was a really tough day. I got up at 6:45 and had my usual for breakfast; a shake made of vanilla soy milk, vanilla protein powder, a banana, blueberries, strawberries, granola, and peanut butter. The special teams meeting started at 7:45 and lasted for about 30 minutes. Practice started at 8:40. It was tough because it was full pads, which means there were a lot of collisions, and it was extremely hot and humid. I lost about 4 pounds of water weight at practice … and I was even drinking Gatorade and water the entire practice! After the 2 1/2-hour practice ended, I got in the cold tub (which is approximately 34 degrees) for 20 minutes … ahhh … nice and cold to reduce all the swelling in the joints and to constrict the muscles so that some of the lactic acid can be squeezed out of the muscles and minimize soreness. After my shower I grabbed some lunch and took it back to my room, scarfed it down quickly so I could get into bed and take advantage of a little nap time! I took about a 45-minute nap and had to get up and go to defensive meetings, which started at 1:15 and lasted until 2:45. We then had another practice at 3:15, but this time we wore helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. Not quite as tough as pads, but still hard work because there’s a good amount of contact. This practice lasted until 5:25. Man, that was tough; two long, grueling practices in Hotlanta. I wish I could have just gone back to the room to relax and enjoy the evening after a long day’s work but we had to eat dinner and then go to evening meetings until 9:45! That’s the typical day during training camp. By the time those night meetings are over I’m exhausted. There’s only a small window of time left to get a snack, get back to the room and call my wife so we can talk about the day before the sandman comes knocking. I talk to my wife while I eat and do my nightly routine of stretching and pressure-point release therapy. I say goodnight, I say my prayers, and then I wake up at 6:45 and do it all over again. As my teammate Mike Peterson says, “It’s hard, but it’s fair.” I know that I am so blessed to be able to play this game … I am incredibly thankful for even the most difficult days.
Monday, Aug. 24, 2009: The coaches gave me more responsibility in our last game against the St. Louis Rams. They moved me over to the strong side LB so that I could take over for Mike Peterson when he was done playing after the first quarter … I hadn’t played that position at all this year! It was a great opportunity because I got to play the entire second quarter with the first-team defense. I was even more excited about another opportunity. I got extended playing time in the nickel package … I alternated every series with the first-team defense as the middle LB. Although I didn’t really have any action in this game (other than two special teams tackles and one assist on defense), I graded out higher than I did last week vs. the Lions. That motivates me to continue studying and learning the game. I will continue to strive to be a little better each day!
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009: I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s game against the Chargers. I experienced a bit of nostalgia today when I realized that it was just three seasons ago that I was asked by my coaches at the Buffalo Bills if I thought I would be able to learn some linebacker just in case there was an emergency. You see, a couple of our linebackers had suffered injuries about halfway through the season and the week going into our game against the Chargers, our starting weakside LB, Angelo Crowell, was a little beat up. They asked me to go over to the linebackers meetings on the Thursday before the game so that I could try to learn a little bit about the position just in case we were plagued by more injuries … I could be an emergency bail-out plan. Until that point I had been a defensive back for my entire career. The Bills drafted me in the third round as a safety, even though I had played only two seasons of defense at Stanford. I was previously a running back. I figured this would be a great opportunity for me to show my versatility and willingness to help the team in any way that I could. I sat in the linebacker meetings on Thursday and Friday trying to soak up as much info as I could. I was humbled to be sitting in the same room as Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, who, in my opinion, are two of the game’s best linebackers. Game day came and it was business as usual … so I thought! I was thinking that I would just continue to play special teams and be the backup safety to Lawyer Milloy. Then, in a crazy twist of fate, Crowell went down in the first series of the game! The linebacker coach came running over to me as I was sitting on the sideline waiting for my next opportunity to go out on the field for special teams. He said, “Coy, you’re going in at Linebacker!” I must have had the most dumbfounded expression on my face!!!; I couldn’t believe that this was really happening. With only two days of meetings and learning as a linebacker, I was going to go in and play football against LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers. I played some good football that game. I don’t know HOW I played well, but I do know WHO allowed it. That day was a blessing for me. That game … that day … changed my football life for the better in a major way. I look back and think about how my career has been a wonderful adventure. I am so thankful.
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009: I’m really happy with how camp is going thus far. Every day that you wake up breathing is a blessing. I am so thankful that I am healthy. After the experiences I’ve had, I don’t take one healthful day for granted. Not only am I healthy, I’m having a blast, too! Football is so fun here in Atlanta. We have an incredibly talented team filled with guys who know how to work hard and know what it takes to win. It is a testament to Thomas Dimitroff, Rich McKay, coach Mike Smith and his colleagues, and our front-office people. These people are winners. They all know what it takes to be successful and what kind of guys you need to have on your team if you want to win. We have a great organization from top to bottom … from Arthur Blank on down. It’s a true joy to go to work each day. I’m also thankful for the opportunities I’ve had on the field thus far. I’ve played every linebacker position except one! One of my goals is to show my versatility. I want to be able to perform at a high level for this team at whatever position I am needed. I work hard to make that a possibility. I love being a Falcon.
Coy Wire saw action in the Falcons second preseason game, a 20-13 victory over the Rams. He recorded a special teams tackle, but failed to make a stop on defense. He will get another shot to impress Atlanta’s coaching staff when the Falcons host the Chargers on August 29.