Cut days are looming this week in the NFL, and they aren't nearly as fun as the ones we all enjoyed during senior year of high school. In fact, Round 1 of cuts comes this Tuesday, then teams need to have their rosters finalized by Saturday. That's why you'll see starters play one, maybe two series -- tops -- in each team's fourth preseason game. The Eagles even announced their starters won't play at all.
Roster bubble players will have almost the whole game to deliver their final auditions for a spot among the final 53. However, there are already a few players who won't get that final chance. We're not quite into "Wow, I had that guy as one of my deeper sleepers" territory, but we'll definitely get there by the end of the week. Let's take a look.
Early notable cuts
(former teams noted)
» Josh Cribbs, WR, Oakland Raiders: The only plausible explanation I can come up with for this move is the Raiders felt Cribbs wasn't healthy enough to contribute. Otherwise, I'm at a loss. It's not as if the Raiders have a long list of ultra-talented WRs on the roster, and while Cribbs was never a traditional wide receiver per se, he could at least make things happen in open space when a team got him the ball. If he really is injured, he probably won't catch on elsewhere. It's a shame -- Cribbs was a gamer.
» Joe McKnight, RB, NY Jets: Huh? This one is really, really puzzling. Chris Ivory has struggled with injuries all offseason long (his whole career, in fact), and while Ivory gained 15 yards on eight carries in his first preseason action this past Saturday, he has never really been a featured back around whom an offense is centered. Yes, I realize the first three years of his career were spent in a pass-happy Saints offense, which may not have given him the chance to run. Behind Ivory, there is only Bilal Powell, who reached 50 rushing yards just twice last season. Behind Powell, there's ... well, a whole lot of unproven commodities. So since the Jets can't throw the ball, I would've thought they need all the healthy running backs they can get on their roster. I'd be curious to see if another team gives McKnight a shot and if he can produce in a different offense.
» Donte' Stallworth, WR Washington Redskins: Meh. Stallworth's best days have been in the rear-view mirror for some time now.
» Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Baltimore Ravens: This situation is kind of similar to that of the Jets and their RB quandary. Dennis Pitta is done for the year, Ed Dickson is banged up, the Ravens don't have great wide receivers ... yet they decide to drop Shiancoe? Hmm. Maybe they're that sold on Dallas Clark, who registered all of :::drumroll::: zero catches in his debut.
» Graham Harrell, QB, Green Bay Packers: Letting Harrell go is not the news here, but the fact that Vince Young won the backup job is. The one line from this article which should terrify everyone is this: When Vince Young threw an interception during a walkthrough period his first week. Translation? The Packers are one Aaron Rodgers injury away from likely drafting in the top 10 in 2014.
Kolb might be done
If you don't feel at least a little sorry for Kevin Kolb, your heart is made of stone. A year after playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league and spending the majority of his time on the field running for this life, Kevin Kolb's career may be in jeopardy after he suffered a recent concussion. Kolb showed a lot of promise coming into the league, having come from a college system where pass-happy doesn't even begin to describe how the Houston Cougars operated their offense.
As for the immediate future for the Bills, there's a real chance EJ Manuel won't be ready for Week 1, which is why the Bills were forced to half-announce that Jeff Tuelwill start Week 1 at home against the Patriots. The rookie Tuel's production was wildly erratic during his time at Washington State, and even though New England's secondary is suspect, expect the Bills to hold true to their promise that they're going to run C.J. Spiller extensively. The question is whether he'll be able to produce against a stuffed box in front of him.
» Danny Amendolahas returned to Patriots practice after a mystery injury that no one knew anything about. Glad that's settled! At least there's also some good news on the Gronk front, and the Pats will be happy to hear that after an uncharacteristically and horrifyingly sloppy performance against the Lions.
» Dear God. As if the Saints defense wasn't in bad enough shape last year, they just found out DE/OLB Will Smithwill miss the season with a knee injury. New Orleans' defense conceded 7,042 yards last year, which was 900 more than the next closest team. Smith is not the only player the Saints have lost on their front seven, either. Thinking perversely, this bodes well for the fantasy values of the Saints offense as well as all their opponents. Don't expect the Saints to engage in many defensive struggles this year.