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NFL report

September 03, 2007|Sam Farmer

NFL coaches, gearing up for the start of the regular season, whittled their rosters to 53 players over the weekend. Most of the cuts were obvious -- rookies who were not drafted and who only played in garbage time of exhibitions, over-the-hill veterans hoping to stretch their careers one last season -- but some cuts we never saw coming.

Five Surprising Cuts

Byron Leftwich, QB, Jacksonville -- The seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft never made it through a complete season, and sat out 15 games in the last two years. The final straw was when David Garrard outplayed him in training camp.

Cory Schlesinger, FB, Miami -- A three-time Pro Bowl alternate, Schlesinger lined up with the first-team offense all summer and was slated to be the starter. In the end, though, the Dolphins preferred 270-pound rookie Reagan Mauia, who used to be a 380-pound nose guard at Hawaii.

Buster Davis, LB, Arizona -- It isn't often that a team parts ways with a third-round pick, but the Cardinals gave up on a player they had signed to a three-year, $1.7-million deal. They're on the hook for his $610,000 bonus. Coaches say he wasn't the player he seemed to be on tape.

Donovin Darius, S, Oakland -- Darius, a Jacksonville castoff who averaged more than 100 tackles over his nine-year career, was supposed to bring a hard-hitting attitude on the field and leadership in the locker room. He was slowed by a calf injury, though, and couldn't unseat Stuart Schweigert for the starting free-safety spot.

Quentin Moses, DE, Oakland -- Moses, the first pick of the third round in April, was competing for the starting right end job, but was lost in the shuffle when the Raiders began moving defensive linemen around. Tommy Kelly moved from defensive tackle to end, and claimed the job on the right side. That came after the Raiders acquired defensive tackle Gerard Warren from Denver.

Five Surprising Survivors

Troy Smith, QB, Baltimore -- Winning a Heisman Trophy is no guarantee a quarterback can make it in the pros (see: Jason White, Eric Crouch, Danny Wuerffel . . . ). But the Ravens like the attitude they see in Smith, if not his 51.6 passer rating this summer.

Kenton Keith, RB, Indianapolis -- Keith, formerly of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, has never had an NFL carry in a regular-season game, but that didn't scare off the Colts. They felt good enough about him to release DeDe Dorsey, backup to starting running back Joseph Addai.

Sav Rocca, P, Philadelphia -- The Eagles released Dirk Johnson, their punter the last four seasons, to make room for Rocca, a former Australian football player. The reason? It came down to numbers. Rocca had a net average of 38.9 yards on his punts this summer; Johnson's average was 34.8.

Gary Baxter, CB, Cleveland -- Baxter is a seasoned veteran, so it wouldn't be so surprising that the Browns would keep him around . . . except that he's coming off two torn knee tendons, and a comeback like that would be unprecedented. He didn't participate in contact drills or play in exhibitions this summer.

Chris Wilson, DE, Washington -- The Redskins' defensive line is in the middle of a youth movement. The emergence of Wilson, who played for Division II Northwood University and in the Canadian Football League, allowed the team to release respected veteran Renaldo Wynn.

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