Final roster cuts represent perhaps the most realistic, unfortunate part of the football season. They had to come prior to 6 p.m. Saturday night, and the Detroit Lions wasted no time making their tough decisions before the deadline.
It's not merely camp roster filler leaving town, either. Gone are several former young draft picks which Detroit had high hopes for. Amari Spievey, a third round draft choice from 2010 and a former starter at safety was sent packing, as was cornerback Chris Greenwood (2012 fifth round pick) and wide receiver Corey Fuller, a sixth round selection this year. Also confirmed to be on the outside looking in were veteran cornerback Ron Bartell, offensive linemen Jake Scott, Kevin Haslam and Rodney Austin, defensive tackles Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Andre Fluellen, wide receiver Matt Willis, rookie linebacker Brandon Hepburn, punter Blake Clingan and a host of undrafted players, including running back Steven Miller, Xavier Proctor and Jon Morgan.
The biggest names, obviously, were Spievey, Greenwood, Fuller and Willis. Both Spievey and Greenwood were victims of their own play as well as roster logjams. Not only was Greenwood attempting to come back off an injury, the Lions signed veteran Rashean Mathis, who has excelled in two games in a backup role, and decided to go with Jonte Green and Bill Bentley, each of whom have had more seasoning. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports the team would like to keep Greenwood on a practice squad contract if he clears waivers.
Spievey, like Greenwood, had to fight plenty of competition following his injury riddled 2012 season. The Lions upgraded their safety spot with the singing of Glover Quin, meaning Spievey was only left to scrap for backup time. Don Carey and the versatile Mathis passed him on the depth chart, quickly making him expendable. Tyrell Johnson, another safety who had also impressed in the preseason, was cut as well.
There were high hopes for the raw Fuller considering he was the Lions' only meaningful offseason addition at wide receiver, but he never panned out, not seeing much time during the preseason or standing out in camp. Detroit did surprisingly release Willis, who had shown the best out of any wide receiver the team was featuring. Making the team at the wide out spot was large target Kris Durham, versatile contributor Michael Spurlock and tight ends Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams, all of which can certainly help the passing game.
Detroit's 53-man roster is set, with other former borderline players such as Theo Riddick, Rocky McIntosh and LaAdrian Waddle playing themselves onto the team. The Lions can start assigning players to the practice squad Sunday, with Greenwood and perhaps a few other youngsters like Miller and Fuller being candidates to fill time there, as well.
With some of the toughest personnel decisions made first, though, the Lions can finally turn their focus to rounding out their starting roster for the upcoming season with signings or perhaps trades. Though there's a bit more finality with the team hitting 53, don't be surprised to see additional moves.
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