2 Heisman winners cut as teams trim rosters to 53
On a day Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford found out he’ll be the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Troy Smith found themselves looking for new teams.
It was cut down Saturday in the NFL, with teams required to trim their rosters to 53 players.
Leinart, the 2004 Heisman winner from USC, was released by the Arizona Cardinals, who will open the season on Sept. 12 with Derek Anderson at quarterback against Bradford and the Rams.
Smith, the 2006 Heisman winner from Ohio State, was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after playing in 14 games over three seasons. The Ravens will open the season with two quarterbacks, starter Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger.
“We’ve gone with two quarterbacks before,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.
Leinart was among the biggest names to be let go. He came into the preseason expecting to take over for the retired Kurt Warner. But he was unimpressive in his first two games and Anderson – acquired from Cleveland after five up-and-down seasons – started the final two preseason games.
Leinart complained about his status and said his problem with coach Ken Whisenhunt “probably goes beyond football.”
Unless the Cardinals sign another quarterback, rookies John Skelton and Max Hall will be Anderson’s backups.
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo tabbed $70 million man Bradford his starter, saying “it’s well deserved.”
Bradford, the 2008 winner, got plenty of playing time in the preseason, completing 33 of 55 passes for 338 yards with no interceptions. A.J. Feeley and Thad Lewis are the backups.
“I feel like coach has given me a great opportunity to start next week against Arizona,” Bradford said. “I realize there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that opportunity.”
Feeley, who signed with the Rams as a free agent, injured his right thumb in the Rams’ second preseason game, giving Bradford even more playing time.
“I think we’re very, very fortunate to have A.J. Feeley in this particular role as a backup quarterback,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a seasoned vet who knows the ins and outs and he can feed that to Sam as he goes along.”
In other moves:
– Safety Ed Reed will miss the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the reserve physically unable to perform list by Baltimore. Smith was one of 15 players released. Also, Billy Cundiff won the kicker’s job over Shayne Graham. Reed underwent offseason hip surgery and did not practice during training camp or play in the preseason.
– As expected, cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones made the Bengals’ roster as a third cornerback and punt returner. Also, Mike Nugent won the kicking job over Dave Rayner. The Bengals also got former first-round pick Reggie Nelson from Jacksonville in a trade of defensive backs. The Jaguars received cornerback David Jones and a conditional draft pick in the deal, completed after teams made final cuts.
– Saints safety Darren Sharper will miss the first six weeks after being placed on the physically unable to perform list.
– Willie Parker became the odd man out in the Washington Redskins’ three-way veteran running back competition when he was released. Larry Johnson will be the backup to Clinton Portis.
– Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was sent packing from Seattle, cut by the Seahawks after just one season as coach Pete Carroll continued his roster purge. Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks’ leading receiver last season, was in the second year of a $40 million, five-year deal he signed with Seattle before the 2009 season.
– Quarterback Pat White has been released by the Miami Dolphins one year after they took him in the second round of the draft. White struggled with his throwing accuracy during a disappointing rookie season in 2009, when he failed to complete any of his five passes in limited duty. The Dolphins kept three quarterbacks – Chad Henne, Chad Pennington and Tyler Thigpen.
– Outside linebacker Derrick Burgess and special teams captain Sam Aiken were released by the New England Patriots. They also placed safety Brandon McGowan, who started 11 games last season, on season-ending injured reserve with a chest injury.
– Receiver Michael Clayton was among the cuts of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Clayton was a first-round draft pick in 2004, when had 80 receptions for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns – all records for a first-year player in Tampa Bay.
– The Broncos acquired tight end Dan Gronkowski from the Lions for cornerback Alphonso Smith in a swap of second-year players. Denver also placed NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil (chest muscle) and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) on injured reserve, officially ending their seasons.
– Cornerback Chevis Jackson was among 20 players released by the Atlanta Falcons. Among other players waived were wide receivers Troy Bergeron, Tim Buckley, Andy Strickland and Ryan Wolfe. Also, the Falcons terminated the contracts of fullback Dan Klecko and center Brett Romberg.
– Buffalo released 19 players, including wideouts James Hardy and Chad Jackson as the Bills decided to keep undrafted rookies David Nelson and Donald Jones.
– The New York Jets waived 21 players, but in a mild surprise wide receiver David Clowney and running backs Danny Woodhead and Chauncey Washington weren’t among them The Jets have seven running backs on the roster. Clowney remains as insurance until Santonio Holmes returns from a four-game suspension in Week 5.