Fringe finale: Five wild rides

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.

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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)


Poll: Who will remain with team?


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 …


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.


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.


Could Long be victim of numbers game?

In the past, the Cardinals weren’t quite as loaded with talent. But Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes that the defending NFC champions have plenty of it this year, and coach Ken Whisenhunt knows that when teams must trim rosters to 53 players, the Cardinals could be letting some talent go.

    Receiver Lance Long is one of those players. He spent last year on the team’s practice squad and is completing a second consecutive impressive training camp. He’s battling for a sixth receiver spot, and if he doesn’t make it, he could get claimed by the Chiefs. They could use the help, and former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley, now the Chiefs coach, knows Long well.
    “You know, I’m not going to lie,” Long said when asked how he felt going into the final preseason game. “It’s already been nerve-wracking. You try not to think about it, try to treat it like every other week. As soon as I start thinking about it, there is something that goes off in my head that says, ‘Lance, you know what’s meant to be is meant to be.'”

The deadline to cut rosters down to 53 players is Saturday. Full story …


It’s a doubly positive day for Long

Two days before his final preseason game — and maybe his final game with the Cardinals — WR Lance Long spoke at a treatment center for children who have been abused, living in troubled homes or homeless.

Long’s civic activity came on a day when the Cardinals trimmed their roster from 80 to 75. Long made the cut, so it was a rewarding day on two fronts: He still has a shot to make Arizona’s 53-man roster, which will be decided Saturday, and he spent time with kids who haven’t had many positive role models.

While at the Parc Place Teen and Family Treatment Center, Long spoke to and answered questions from kids ages 7 to 18. The humble Long hopes he can continue to be active in the Phoenix community with the Cardinals, but he is competing with Sean Morey and Early Doucet, who both had strong performances in last Friday’s game against the Packers, for a roster spot.

How Long does Thursday night against the Broncos could determine whether he lives the dream of being an undrafted player who makes the team or if he’ll be crossing his fingers to get re-signed with the practice squad or claimed by another franchise.


Long not among Cardinals’ cuts

When the Arizona Cardinals trimmed their roster to 75 players, Lance Long was not among those who were let go.

The Cardinals placed linebacker Cody Brown on injured reserve and waive-injured wide receiver Michael Ray Garvin and linebacker Pago Togafau. The team also released safety Keith Lewis and tackle Brandon Pearce.


Long so close to potential tying TD catch

Lance Long nearly put an emphatic stamp on his bid to make the Cardinals’ roster.

On first-and-10 at the Packers’ 11-yard line with 50 seconds left Friday night, Cardinals QB Matt Leinart lofted a pass toward Long in the right corner of the end zone. Long caught the pass, but officials ruled that he only had one foot inbounds, making it incomplete. A replay review confirmed the ruling on the field, and the Cardinals still trailed by seven points.

Jason Wright scored a touchdown on the next play, taking a screen pass into the end zone, and Long was one of the first players to greet him in the ensuing celebration. However, the Cardinals missed the two-point conversion and went on to lose 44-37 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Long had seven passes thrown his way and caught one for 12 yards. On the third pass, Long was decked by two Packers defenders, one of whom was called for pass interference.

Long also returned two punts for 2 yards (he muffed one) and fielded two kickoffs for touchbacks. That special-teams versatility should help Long’s cause.