With NFL fans, the media and gamblers in every corner of the globe primed and ready for the 2013 season, it’s only 10 days away from reality. Commissioner Roger Goodell is hoping for another blockbuster season like last year, when a record number of points were scored (11,651 in all, or 45.5 per game) during the rise of the spread offense.
Before the season can start, though, there is a harsh reality that hits in all 32 organizations’ headquarters: the whittling down of the 53 man-roster. That process begins with trimming the roster from 90 to 75 players, and then final cuts take the number down to 53. Looking at the big picture of building a 53-man roster, it starts with the head coach and general manager’s philosophy of building a winning team in their vision. This is why it is imperative that both men are on the same page when it comes to constructing a championship foundation.
With one preseason game to go, teams are now game planning for the first opponent in all three phase and adding players to help build the back end of the roster, plus working the trade phones. Coaches continue to grade and evaluate their players’ performances in the classroom, practice and game situations. The bottom line is who fits the scheme the best while playing with passion, desire and competing at a high level with the ability to create production in multiple phases of the game.
Teams trimmed their rosters from 90 to 75 after the third week of preseason action, with a deadline coming fast today (3 p.m.). Throughout the league, there are always several surprises when bubble veterans and even recent draft picks receive the knock on the door from the Turk, and are asked to bring their playbooks and go see the head coach. The first cut is more or less camp legs, whose services are no longer needed. Several NFL clubs choose to make small, incremental adjustments by cutting a few players prior to the third preseason contest, others make cuts after the third preseason affair and most work toward the deadline with a 10-15 player list and do it all at once.
The complete process of trimming a team to reach the 53-man roster limit is governed by the NFL player personnel department. First, players are waived, meaning they no longer have a contractual agreement with that current team, allowing them to seek employment with another club once they clear waivers. Clubs are responsible to list a player in the following categories:
Injury Settlement – A team has a player on IR on the preseason roster if he has struggled to perform because of nagging injuries. Both sides negotiate and agree to a cash settlement in exchange for releasing that player from his contractual agreement.
Terminated Vested Veterans – A player with four our more years of service is considered a vested veteran.
Reserve/PUP (physically unable to perform) – Player on this list on Week 1 must sit out the first six game before a team must decide to add the player to the 53-man roster by making room for the player.
Reserve/Suspension – Player who must serve a league-mandated suspension from the commissioner and sits out the number of suspended games.
Reserve /Injured – NFL teams use the reserve so they can keep a player on the team but not take up a roster spot. The NFL’s injured reserve rule restricts a player from returning to the active roster in the same year.
Sunday afternoon at Rams Park, Fisher addressed the instant roster reduction.
“We’ve already started the process,” he said. “We’ll have a list for you whenever we’re required to have a list for you, or you guys can hang out in the parking lot and look around and see who’s here. It’s not easy.
“You’ve got guys that have been in here since the rookie minicamp, through the OTAs in the summer, and the whole bit busting their rear ends and they’re all better football players now than they were when they got there. But they understand the reality of it. It’s not an easy process.”
The first batch of waived players: receivers Andrew Helmick, Raymond Radway and Demetrius Fields; quarterback Tim Jenkins; defensive tackle Al Lapuaho; linebacker Joseph Lebeau; cornerback Robert Steeples; kicker/punter Brett Baer; and long snapper Jorgen Hus.
In addition, offensive lineman Graham Pocic was placed on the waived-injured list.
Positional Battle to Watch on Thursday
At wide receiver, Justin Veltung goes toe-to-toe with Emory Blake. Edge goes to Veltung because of his ability to play special teams and return skills.
Both defensive end Chris Long and tight end Cory Harkey did not participate in Monday’s practice session. Fisher commented only that Long “is fine,” while elaborating slightly on Harkey’s condition.
“You guys are getting dangerously close to me saying, ‘I will have an injury report for you next Friday.’ It is closing in,” Fisher said. “We got good news on Harkey. That’s all I can say.”
Fisher also announced that the Rams will have a padded practice on Tuesday.