Last week, we posted our second 53-man roster projection of the preseason. That was when the Browns had 90 players on their roster. Since then, they have cut two players -- FB Brock Bolen and P T.J. Conley, bringing the roster down to 88 players prior to this past Saturday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The first round of mandatory roster cuts are due in this Tuesday by 4:00 PM EST. Many teams have already started announcing their first batch of cuts, so there's a good chance we could hear about the Browns' cutdown on Monday. When Rob Chudzinski decides on the 13 additional players that need to be let go (or moved to injured reserve), he will consider two things:
- If Chudzinski does not want his starters to play against the Bears, he needs to keep enough players to play each position, even if a particular player has no shot at making the final roster.
- Second, the players released will typically be lower down the depth chart, or a veteran who you just feel doesn't need to be here. The veteran part may apply to some teams, but not really Cleveland, a team that is among the youngest in the NFL.
With that in mind, here are the 13 players I am projecting to be released or placed on injured reserve by Tuesday for the Browns, and the reason why:
- RB Dion Lewis - Injured Reserve - When you have to make roster cutdowns for the first time, you try to "lessen the amount of players who have to be cut immediately" by placing the injured guys on injured reserve. I think that'll be the case with Lewis here.
- RB Miguel Maysonet - Did not play vs. Colts; reps were given to newly-signed Jamaine Cook instead.
- WR Mike Edwards - Has generally seen the least amount of reps this preseason, and hasn't made a splash when given the opportunity.
- WR Tori Gurley - It was surprising to see his reps get cut in the third preseason game to nothing. He has size and has been around longer than the younger guys, but I think the coaches have seen enough of him.
- TE Travis Tannahill - We haven't seen much of Tannahill this preseason, and he basically has not played on offense for the past two preseason games. If Gary Barnidge comes back this week, the Browns will have enough tight end depth against the Bears.
- TE Dan Gronkowski - As much as I wanted to see Gronkowski overtake Kellen Davis, I'm resigned to the fact that it's just not going to happen; the coaches still have him buried on the depth chart this far into camp.
- OT Ryan Miller - Injured Reserve - Even though Miller has the same offensive line coach as a year ago, this new coaching staff hasn't seen enough of Miller to warrant keeping him. He's missed all of camp with a concussion, and even if he comes back, the Browns don't have the luxury to give him a roster spot, given their lack of depth at guard. Miller can be stashed on IR for a year, or just straight out released.
- OT Chris Faulk - Injured Reserve - Faulk is on the PUP right now, but he still counts toward the 90-man roster. There is no way he contributes this year, so the Browns might as well place him on IR now and keep this roster spot open for someone else vs. the Bears.
- DL Dave Kruger - When you look at the Browns' defensive line, there is a lot of depth there. Billy Winn, John Hughes, and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen could all start against the Bears. The backups for each of them are Brian Sanford, Armonty Bryant, and Hall Davis. You don't need third-teamers at this stage of the preseason, so Kruger will say goodbye to his brother early. Kruger hasn't played much in the preseason either.
- DT Nicholas Jean-Baptiste - I'm pretty surprised that Jean-Baptiste never really made a splash to compete with Kitchen. He's on this list for pretty much the same reason I had Kruger on this list.
- LB Tommy Smith - I like what I've seen from Smith and still think of him as a practice squad candidate, but the fact that he didn't play a snap against the Colts isn't a good sign. The Browns may end up cutting James-Michael Johnson and/or Tank Carder, but I think they'll save those decisions for the final cutdown.
- CB Vernon Kearney - Digging through the position depth, the Browns could use Leon McFadden, Akeem Auguste, and Abdul Kanneh against the Bears. Depending on Trevin Wade's health and whether Chris Owens is ready to go, they could play too. In that case, Kearney is the type of guy who is expendable; he's seen the fewest reps among the cornerbacks this preseason.
- K Brandon Bogotay - Head coach Rob Chudzinski all but declared that veteran Shayne Graham was won the competition at kicker. Bogotay is battling a groin injury, and may not even be ready against the Bears. Cleveland also has the option to place him on injured reserve with the intention of bringing him back to camp in 2014.
Feel free to share your roster projections for getting down to 75 players in the comments section below!
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