Bent, TheJetsBlog.comEvery year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Jeff Cumberland, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls, Nick Folk, Leger Douzable, Calvin Pace), they chose not to bring everyone back. Although it’s only preseason, we’ve been keeping track of the progress on the guys they let go so we can at least start to form some views on whether letting any of these guys loose was a mistake or a smart move.
This week was pretty remarkable, with nearly all of the players still on the bubble managing to find themselves a role apart from a couple of surprising special teams cuts. As ever, we’ll break down how each player performed in this week’s preseason action, while also providing an update on their roster status.
Some stats from PFF are used in this article and throughout the series.
Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona
Cromartie was rested for the final preseason game. Despite starting the first three games, Cromartie saw very limited action and was barely targeted so it’s difficult to get a read on whether he’ll ever return to his pre-2013 form. He did have one interception on a pass that was tipped three times, but otherwise it was a quiet preseason, which I suppose is what you want from your cornerbacks. He’ll start at corner.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Chicago
Holmes looked exceptionally sharp on a couple of plays here, as he made an appearance in the first half. First of all, he caught a short pass on the outside, then turned upfield, beat rookie Justin Gilbert to the edge and went in for a 32-yard score. Later on, he broke a couple of tackles on a 30-yard punt return. He was targeted three other times with one broken up, one too low and one well over his head, but showed enough big play ability to warrant a place on their team and is expected to be their number three receiver.
Joe McKnight, RB/KR, Kansas City
McKnight got some solid work here, rushing for 50 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, all in the second half. He also caught a seven yard pass and had two unremarkable kickoff returns. Most of his yardage came on runs off the edge, the longest of which went for 13. He did go up the gut a few times though, including on his one yard scoring run in the third quarter. McKnight also got some work as a wideout with one throw behind him and another being caught for an apparent 36-yard touchdown only for him to be flagged for stepping out of bounds on his route. That was perhaps his most impressive play as he beat his man down the sideline and then side-stepped the safety at the five. I didn’t expect McKnight to make their team, but he did, one of five running backs to make it. After his issues last year, it was good to see him making plays again.
Jacquies Smith, OLB, Buffalo
Another surprise was Smith making the roster for the Bills. He has been showed some flashes this preseason, especially as a pass rusher, where he had a sack and 10 total pressures in 73 pass rush attempts. On Thursday night, he broke into the backfield three times to create pressure, each time shedding a block to do so. In the running game, he did get in on a tackle in the backfield, but was also blocked out of a few plays and did jump offside once. As I noted a week or two ago, Marcus Dowtin converted a solid preseason into a roster spot for the Bills last year, but didn’t see much time and was soon released. We’ll have to wait and see if Smith can fare any better.
Dan Carpenter, K, Buffalo
Carpenter didn’t get to take the field this week as the Bills were shut out and didn’t attempt a field goal. It had looked like the Bills would carry a kickoff specialist as Carpenter hadn’t been kicking off all preseason. However, they released Dustin Hopkins during the week, so Carpenter’s job is safe. The punter kicked off in Thursday’s game.
Billy Cundiff, K, Cleveland
A strong performance from Cundiff saw him nail all seven kicks, including four field goals, the longest of which was 47 yards. In terms of his kickoffs, his first three were all touchbacks, but his next five were not. I suspect he was told to lay it short so they could assess their kick coverage units. He’s been the only kicker on their team all preseason.
Royce Adams, CB, Cleveland
Adams was cut during the week, which wasn’t really a surprise after a disastrous game against Washington two weeks ago. He gave up over 100 yards in that game, including two touchdowns. He has not been picked up yet.
Aaron Berry, CB, Cleveland
Berry made it onto the Browns roster, as Leon McFadden was one of their final cuts and ended up being claimed by the Jets. In preseason, he played both on the outside and in the slot for Cleveland. In Thursday’s game, Berry played just 17 snaps. One on play Santonio Holmes got half a step on him breaking to the inside, but he was bailed out by a low throw that Holmes could not come up with. On another play his man caught a screen pass and he got picked, but the slot receiver came up to stop it for a short gain. The Jets were prepared to bring back Berry for the minimum at the start of preseason, but he apparently chose the Browns because he thought he had a better chance to make their team. In the end, he would have had a pretty good chance in either place.
Austin Howard, G/T, Oakland
Just a cameo this week for Howard, who was on the field at right guard for Oakland’s first two drives, the second of which was one play. Both drives ended in touchdowns and the first one was an extended drive against Seattle’s starters. Howard missed his block on the play where the Raiders scored their first touchdown, so obviously that didn’t matter. Other than that he made mostly positive contributions including a good pulling seal block on Bobby Wagner, although the reason that run went for 14 yards was a missed tackle in the hole by Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. In pass protection there are still some signs that Howard will sometimes help the right tackle when the center needs the help more and vice versa, but no major errors. On the whole, he’s done well making the transition so far, but it’s at right tackle where they may have issues as Menelik Watson missed most of the preseason and his would-be replacement Khalif Barnes is a potential weak spot. Howard will presumably start at right guard on Sunday against the Jets unless Watson can’t go and the Raiders throw an audible and put Howard out at right tackle.
Robert Malone, P, Washington
Malone looked to have secured his spot when Washington released his competition, Blake Klingan, last week. However, they signed another punter during the week and in this game, Malone’s only punt was 31 yards whereas the other punter had two for a 47-yard net. After the game, Malone was released. If there’s any lingering regrets over dumping Malone for Ryan Quigley, that could now be set straight. However, after a poor preseason, I doubt that’s the case.
Danny Lansanah, LB, Tampa Bay
Lansanah, having started, was having a terrific game early in the third quarter, as he made his third tackle for a loss. However, he let himself down with a couple of negative plays in the third, overpursuing on a dump-off pass that went for an 80-yard touchdown, missing a tackle and getting blocked out of a play. On balance, though, it was another good performance from Lansanah who made the roster and looks likely to be a contributor for the Bucs this year. This makes you wonder if he would have been a better option than Nick Bellore and Jeremiah George who made the Jets team as backups at ILB. Other than the three TFLs, Lansanah also tipped a pass into the air that was intercepted and drew a hold.
Scott Solomon, DE/OLB, Tampa Bay
I’ll say this for Scott Solomon, he has a pretty nifty spin move, which he used here to get low pressure on the quarterback. He also picked up his second sack of the preseason, coming unblocked on a stunt up the middle. In all, he played 40 snaps. He didn’t do as much against the run, but did shed his block to get in on one run stuff. Solomon also managed to sneak his way onto the 53 after accumulating two sacks and six total pressures in 67 pass rush snaps.
Lowell Rose, DB, San Diego
Rose was released during the week as well. As with any early cuts, I was wondering if that was so he’d have already cleared waivers when it came time to start signing players to the practice squad, but he hasn’t been picked up yet. He did show a few decent flashes with the Chargers and will probably be back in camp next year even if he doesn’t get picked up during the season.
Derek Dimke, K, New Orleans
It looked like Dimke wrapped up the placekicker role because Shayne Graham didn’t even take the field in the last game. However, the Saints cuts surprisingly included both of them, leaving them kickerless. Dimke hit two field goals, although his second one – a 49-yarder – came after he missed from 54 only for the defense to get flagged for running into the kicker. He did not manage to get any touchbacks on his kickoffs.
Ryan Spadola, WR, Miami
Spadola was released in the week following a quiet preseason. Ending up on someone’s practice squad is perhaps the best he can hope for right now, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Vladimir Ducasse, G/T, Minnesota
Ducasse started off at right guard and looked really solid. As the game went on, he played left guard and right tackle too and his focus seemed to slip a little. Whether that was due to the position change or just tiredness/poor focus, I don’t know. He had one false start and one illegal use of the hands penalty. The Vikings built a comfortable lead though, with Ducasse making several solid run blocks. Impressively, Ducasse gave up zero pressure in 139 snaps this preseason and the Vikings will probably use him as their sixth lineman.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Philadelphia
Sanchez rested this week having wrapped up an excellent preseason with a completion percentage of over 80, a quarterback rating of well over 100 and a yards per attempt average of over nine. He was facing and working with backups most of the time, but definitely surprised with his consistency and had a lot of successful scoring drives. A possible trade had been rumored, but it looks like he’s going to be the Eagles number two unless and until Nick Foles gets hurt.
Terrence Miller, TE, Patriots
Miller did not play this preseason. New England signed him and he ended up on injured reserve.
Isaiah Trufant, CB, Browns
Trufant was the starting nickel back in the first preseason game, but then missed the last three injured. I don’t know how serious the injury is, but they placed him on injured reserve. They will have until opening day to decide whether to give him a designation to return.
Josh Mauga, LB, Chiefs
Mauga made the Chiefs team despite missing a couple of preseason games. Not only that, there’s some talk he might start for them. On Thursday, he was in on two run stuffs and also broke into the backfield to almost make a tackle for a loss, slowing the runner up so his teammate could get him anyway. He was blocked out of one play at the second level.
JB Shugarts, OL, Bucs
Shugarts was released earlier in the week. He only saw brief action with the third unit early on in preseason and never really got the chance to move up. He has yet to be picked up.
Jojo Dickson, LB, Cardinals
Dickson didn’t get many chances to play in preseason but did flash once or twice, most notably when he came unblocked up the middle and tackled the quarterback for a safety. He never progressed above the third unit and was cut last Monday. He has not been picked up yet, either.
Rashaan Vaughn, WR, Raiders
Vaughn was also cut before this week’s game. He did not contribute on offense and was mostly limited to special teams work. Nobody has picked Vaughn up yet.
Miguel Maysonet, RB, Pittsburgh
Local product Maysonet saw some brief action at running back earlier on in preseason but did not make much of an impact. He did show a couple of good things on special teams, but it was always unlikely he’d make the team and he was released before this week’s game. He’s still waiting to be picked up.
Jake McDonough, DL, Washington
McDonough was impressive in some brief third unit appearances. Remember, he didn’t get to play in preseason last year, so this was his first action. After his release last week, he’ll be hoping for a call from someone hoping to add him to their practice squad. He’s apparently on the watch list for a couple of teams, but has not yet been picked up.
We’ll keep tabs on these guys and provide a couple of updates during the season and one at the year of the year. I’ll also be back later today with a BGA Scouting Report on Leon McFadden.