Coaches toughest day: cut day
Twenty years of experience as an NFL player and coach don’t make cutdown day any easier for Tony Dungy.
``It’s difficult,″ the second-year coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said.
``Especially the way it is now where you get guys in March, you’ve got your offseason program and they’ve been here four or five months and you’ve got to tell them they’re not going to be with you. ... In a lot of cases, guys have done everything that’s been asked.″
Nineteen players, including veteran safety Todd Scott, were waived by Tampa Bay, while kick returner Marvin Marshall and offensive linemen Stephen Ingram and Brian Newnam went on injured reserve Monday as Dungy trimmed the roster to 60 players.
``Obviously, we had some tough decisions,″ general manager Rich McKay said. ``I expect next week’s cut down to 53 will be even harder. But that’s the type of problem you want to have because it indicates you have plenty of talent competing for those few openings.″
Scott, who started the first two games of 1996 before sustaining a season-ending torn Achilles’ tendon, was the only surprise.
Dungy, who also coached Scott when he was defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-94, still believes the 29-year-old can play in the league.
``It’s a tough ordeal going through that, an Achilles’ tendon. But he rehabbed well and worked hard,″ Dungy said.
Three receivers _ 1996 draft pick Nilo Silvan, Chris Campbell and Gregory Spann _ and linebackers Mark Williams, Eddie Mason and LaCurtis Jones also were released.
Wideout Chris Miller and tight end Kyle Wachholtz were waived along with defensive tackle Michael Thompson of Wisconsin, wide receiver Ronnie Anderson of Allegheny College, and defensive end Nicholas Lopez of Texas Southern.
Also, halfback Edgar Bennett was placed on injured reserve. He will miss the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.
Wide receiver David Dunn will be sidelined until mid-September after breaking his left hand in Saturday’s exhibition game against Minnesota.
Dunn, the team’s third receiver, caught 32 passes last season, 24 on third or fourth down. The team hopes to have him back by the third game of the season.
Also cut were linebacker Eddie Sutter, who played four years with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns; rookie nose tackle William Carr, Cincinnati’s seventh-round draft pick from Michigan; last year’s starting safety, Bracey Walker; and offensive tackle Melvin Tuten, who started seven games in 1996.
Reggie Rivers, a six-year running back and special teams player, was one of 11 players cut.
Rivers, 29, played in 69 games, rushed for 428 yards, caught 75 passes for 675 yards and scored eight touchdowns for Denver, which signed him as a free agent in 1991.
Only John Elway, Steve Atwater, Shannon Sharpe and Tyrone Braxton have been with the Broncos longer.
First-round draft pick Chris Naeole, a 311-pound offensive lineman from Colorado, did some jogging Monday, the only thing besides rehabilitation he has done since injuring his knee in training camp.
Naeole, the 10th player taken overall, was counted on to start at right guard before partially dislocating his left kneecap and spraining the medial collateral ligament last month.
Coach Mike Ditka was hopeful Naeole could return for the second regular-season game against San Diego. Naeole said he was told he would not be back until the third game, however.
Jake Delhomme, the record setting quarterback from Southwestern Louisiana, was cut, but expects to join the practice squad.
Junior Seau returned to practice, although only as a spectator, as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.
The six-time Pro Bowl linebacker spent the last two weeks resting his surgically repaired left knee before beginning his rehabilitation. He hopes to begin jogging Tuesday.
Otherwise, 17 players were released, including third-string center Bryan Stoltenberg, a 1996 sixth-round draft pick, and Chris Singleton, who was signed Aug. 7 because of injuries to the linebacking corps. Singleton started 13 games for Miami last year.
Quarterback Tommy Maddox was released, along with receiver Tyrone Brown, offensive guard Jeff Pahukoa and running back Richard Huntley, all of whom played with the team during a dismal 3-13 season in 1996.
Maddox was a first-round pick in 1992 by Denver, then coached by Dan Reeves. He started four games as a rookie but was let go by the Broncos after two seasons. He played one year with the Rams and followed Reeves to the Giants in 1995.
The Falcons will keep seven-year veteran Billy Joe Tolliver as their No. 2 quarterback and rookie Tony Graziani, a seventh-round pick from Oregon, as the emergency third-stringer.
Six-foot-4, 287-pound defensive tackle Keif Bryant, a 1995 seventh-round draft choice from Rutgers, was among six players released.
Also waived were four rookie free agents: linebacker Tyrell Peters of Oklahoma, tight end Jamal Clark of UCLA, wide receiver Robert Wilson of Florida A&M and center David Kempfert of Montana.
Pat Riley, a second-year defensive tackle from Miami, was waived after getting an injury settlement from the Seahawks. He injured an arch in their first exhibition game.
Bryant spent the 1995 season on the Seahawks’ practice squad and missed the entire 1996 season because of an Achilles’ tendon injury.
The team placed third-year linebacker Jason Kyle and wide receiver Grayson Shillingford on injured reserve with shoulder injuries, and second-year running back Dou Innocent on it with a knee injury.
Defensive tackle Henry McMillian (back), safety T.J. Cunningham (knee) and tight end Ituli Mili (knee) were put on the physically-unable-to-perform list.