|Saturday, August 31
Updated: September 3, 8:23 PM ET
Pochman injury opens door for Bryant
EAST RUTHEFORD, N.J. -- If the regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers comes down to a field goal, don't be surprised if New York Giants coach Jim Fassel is on the sideline holding his breath.
The Giants are heading into Thursday night with Matt Bryant as their placekicker. The squatty 27-year-old free agent hasn't kicked in a game that mattered since playing at Baylor in 1998.
Bryant, cut by the Giants on Friday and signed to their practice squad Tuesday, was given the starting job just hours later when second-year pro Owen Pochman was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
"It's a dream for every kid who plays sports, you want to get to the top level, and here I am with the New York Giants,'' said Bryant, who looks more like one of the team's equipment men than a player. "I am on top of the world.''
While Pochman had battled an inflammation in his left knee for the past two weeks, putting him on injured reserve 48 hours before gametime was a surprise. He kicked well in practice the past two days, missing only one field goal and ending Monday's display with a 50-yarder down the middle.
However, the medical staff told Fassel that Pochman's knee wasn't going to improve. So Fassel turned to Bryant, who has spent more time working as a pawnbroker in K&C Pawn in Orange, Texas, than kicking over the past four years.
Even Fassel said he didn't talk to Bryant in the first few weeks of camp because he was kicking so badly.
Bryant, who was jet-skiiing in Texas when the Giants summoned him back to New Jersey, doesn't recall that. All he remembers early in camp was stepping on the field for a kick and hearing Fassel say: "OK guys, five seconds, we're down by two.''
Bryant responded with a 35-yard field goal. He hopes he can duplicate the feat Thursday.
Vikings waive Seder, stick with Brien
Brien struggled during the preseason, making only one of five field goal attempts.
His trouble prompted coaches to bring in Seder and three other kickers Tuesday for a tryout. But the Vikings decided to keep Brien, a ninth-year veteran who has played with San Francisco, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
The Vikings also officially signed veteran linebacker Greg Biekert, who's expected to start at middle linebacker for Minnesota's season opener at Chicago on Sunday.
Biekert was cut by Oakland over the weekend.
Rypien, who appeared to have made the roster when the team made its final cuts Sunday, was waived Monday.
That means the Seahawks won't have to pay Rypien's $750,000 salary, of which $450,000 counted against the NFL's salary cap.
The Seahawks signed the 39-year-old Rypien as a free agent Aug. 19 after starting quarterback Trent Dilfer sprained his right knee in the team's exhibition opener.
Rypien played in two exhibition games for Seattle, completing 13 of 21 passes for 97 yards.
A 12-year NFL veteran, he was the Super Bowl MVP in 1992 when he played for the Washington Redskins.
In other moves on Monday, the Seahawks claimed quarterback Dave Dickenson and guard Konrad Dean, and waived center-guard Tupe Peko. Dickenson was the San Diego Chargers' third-string quarterback last season, when he was inactive in all 16 games.
He apparently will be Seattle's No. 3 quarterback when the Seahawks open the season Sunday at Oakland. Backup Matt Hasselbeck is expected to start the game because Dilfer isn't completely recovered from his injury.
Cowboys decide Wright not right for Dallas
Dallas also cut Woody Dantzler, a star quarterback at Clemson who could end up on the five-man practice squad.
Wright was the first to replace Carter last season and even led the Cowboys to their first victory. He later reaggravated a knee injury he'd had since college and chose to have season-ending surgery.
Owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that letting Wright go this late could hurt his quest for another job. Coach Dave Campo said coaches opted to go with Stoerner as the third-stringer because he can handle the role better than Wright, who still wants to be a starter.
"He can go in with a limited number of reps and be successful,'' Campo said of Stoerner. "I think Anthony still has a future in this league.''
Hicks loses out in running back race with Titans
Hicks had been competing with Robert Holcombe to back up Eddie George. But Holcombe played well on special teams and led Tennessee in rushing this preseason, while Hicks averaged nearly a yard less per carry.
Holcombe carried 27 times for 100 yards with a long run of 23 yards. Hicks, who dropped a swing pass Friday night in a 21-20 defeat against Green Bay, carried 32 times for 94 yards.
The Titans also waived safety Tony George, receiver Chris Coleman, guard Barry Hall and defensive tackle Joe Salave'a. The Titans reached the mandated 53-man roster by placing safety Bobby Myers on injured reserve as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the season opener last year.
Bengals decide to go with two kickers
With punter Nick Harris firmly entrenched, the Bengals will open the season with two kickers and a punter.
Kicking a 65-yard field goal doesn't land Kimrin a job
Kimrin's field goal in the game Thursday against Seattle was 2 yards longer than the league record of 63, which is shared by the Broncos' Jason Elam and former New Orleans Saint Tom Dempsey.
Exhibition games do not count in the league record book.
Cornerback Buckley let go by Bucs
Buckley, who has 41 interceptions in 10 seasons with Green Bay, Miami, Denver and New England, signed a one-year contract a week before training camp. His chances of making the team were weakened by the development of young cornerbacks like Tim Wansley and Corey Ivy.
Buckley played in 15 games with one start for the Patriots last season. He also had a fumble recovery in New England's Super Bowl win over St. Louis.
Niners make their decisions
With starter Jeff Ulbrich listed as out and rookie backup Saleem Rasheed doubtful for the season opener Thursday against the New York Giants, the Niners opted to keep eight linebackers. They finished with six last season.
The Niners also made the uncommon move of keeping two kickers. As a consequence, they currently have just four receivers and three safeties on the roster.
Linebacker Hall on list of Vikings cut
The Vikings also cut veteran wide receiver Sean Dawkins and rookie safety Kyries Hebert.
Hall, an eighth-year player who was entering his third season with the Vikings, recorded 74 tackles as a starter last season and was projected to be the starting weak-side linebacker this year. But rookie Raonall Smith moved ahead of him on the depth chart in training camp, and Hall became Patrick Chukwurah's backup on the strong side.
Offensive cuts included: running backs David Allen and Jeremy Allen, tight end Jeff Kostrewa, guards Orlando Bobo and Mike Malano, and tackles Bennitte Waddell and Lorenzo White. Defensive players who were cut were: defensive tackle Cedric Killings, cornerbacks Anthony Midget and Carey Scott, and linebackers Max Yates and Andre O'Neal.
The nine-year veteran was the most notable name on the list of 19 cuts the Jaguars made Sunday.
They have 54 players on their roster, one more than the NFL maximum, because the league granted them a roster exemption for Smith, who will report with his new contract Monday.
Scott, formerly of the Bengals, signed a one-year deal and hoped to join Bobby Shaw and Patrick Johnson as part of Jacksonville's rebuilding receiving corps. But shoulder injuries plagued Scott throughout camp, and he barely practiced. He finished the preseason with three catches for 59 yards.
"We picked the best 53 men for this squad,'' coach Marty Mornhinweg said. "In some cases, it was not a matter of athletic ability, but a matter of getting men with the right character for this organization.''
Fair, selected out of Tennessee in 1998, moved right into the starting lineup, but struggled with injuries. He missed the final four games of last season with a foot injury and was slow to recover, sitting out the first two preseason games.
Bears cut Butkus' nephew
Luke Butkus, a rookie free agent center from Illinois, was among 18 players released. "You're always surprised when you're cut, right?'' Butkus said. "My dream has always been to play anywhere, with the Bears or not.''
He could end up on the practice squad if he's not claimed on waivers.
McGrew's time in San Francisco now over
While there has been no official announcement, ESPN.com learned Saturday that McGrew, a former University of Florida standout, is among the players the 49ers have released in order to move closer to the mandatory roster limit of 53 by Sunday afternoon.
McGrew, 25, was the 24th player chosen overall in the '99 draft. But after signing a seven-year contract that included a $2.5 million signing bonus, he spent most of his rookie year on injured reserve with a torn triceps tendon. He did not play in a single game in '99, and then suffered through a variety of ailments in the succeeding two seasons as well.
In his three seasons, McGrew appeared in just 22 games, with no starts. He had 10 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed.
San Francisco will save $700,000 on its 2002 salary cap with the release of McGrew but must still count $399,342 against the spending limit this year as a prorated share of his original signing bonus. The 49ers will take a cap hit of $1.198 million for McGrew on their 2003 salary cap.
-- Len Pasquarelli
Cardinals dump backup QB Greisen
Greisen, who spent the last three seasons as Arizona's third-string quarterback, was listed as No. 2 behind Jake Plummer throughout training camp after Arizona decided not to re-sign veteran Dave Brown. Greisen's release leaves rookie Josh McCown as the No. 2 quarterback.
Greisen was a seventh-round draft pick out of Northwest Missouri State. McCown, who began his career at Southern Methodist, was selected in the third round out of Sam Houston State.
Mitchell appeared in 28 games, five of them as a starter, over the past two seasons. He caught 30 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns with the Cardinals. Tosi played in 26 games over the last two seasons, with 76 tackles, 42 solos.
Among those cut was kicker Tim Duncan, who narrowly was beaten out by Bill Gramatica, who is coming off knee surgery.
Running back Josh Scobey, a sixth-round draft pick, was placed on the injured list with a thumb injury, meaning he will not play this season. First-round draft pick Wendell Bryant was listed as reserve-unsigned, meaning he will not count on the roster limit.
Also waived were running back Damien Anderson, outside linebacker Charles Burton, offensive tackle Michael Cook, cornerback Justin Gallimore, fullback Anthony Green, free safety Quintin Harris, offensive tackle Robert Haws, guard Thomas Moody, center Jason Padget and defensive end Jarrett Procell.
Running back Anthony White was placed on the non-football injury list after being hurt while playing in the World Football League.
With 54 players on the active roster, the Falcons must release one more to meet the NFL deadline by 4 p.m. ET Sunday. If Atlanta can sign free agent defensive tackle Ellis Johnson, who interviewed with the team Friday, a second player will be cut.
Smith, who started the last 12 games after Jamal Anderson tore a knee ligament last year, became expendable after Warrick Dunn signed a $28.5 million free-agent contract in March and T.J. Duckett was drafted No. 18 overall the following month.
The Falcons kept Travis Jervey, a special teams standout, instead of Smith.
Lyle, who started in the St. Louis Rams' secondary from 1995-2000, signed as a free agent in April, but failed to beat out Keion Carpenter. Lyle, drafted out of Virginia in the third round of 1994, played in 16 games as a Washington Redskins reserve last year. On Tuesday, Lyle signed with the San Diego Chargers.
The Falcons are close to signing Johnson, a former Indianapolis Colt who never felt comfortable in the schemes implemented by new Colts coach Tony Dungy. After Johnson asked to be traded or released, Dungy cut him Wednesday.
Wednesday's release came following his request to be cut or traded because he wasn't satisfied with what was going to be his role in the Colts' defense this season. Because Johnson has a good relationship with team management, the Colts told Johnson that he could return to the team if he doesn't find a new job.
Johnson, 28, started 84 of 104 games for the team since the Colts made him the 15th selection in the 1995 draft. He had 33 sacks during his Colts' career.
"They wouldn't have released him if he hadn't asked," said agent Dave Levine. "Ellis just thought he wasn't fitting in to what their scheme has become under the new staff."
Levine has already heard from several teams, most notably the Philadelphia Eagles, about his client. Philadelphia lost starting tackle Hollis Thomas for the year with a broken foot, and Johnson's style of play would fit well there.
His departure could open the door for second-round choice Larry Tripplett to enter the starting lineup. The Colts are using a more aggressive scheme in which linemen run to the quarterback, but the system also requires more substitutions.