Nine veteran players who could be on the chopping block
With the week of “dress rehearsals” in the books, some veterans are wondering if they’ll receive that dreaded phone call. Standing on the sideline throughout the Week 3 contest has given a number of veterans reason to worry. The following nine players still have much to prove if they are to make the final 53-man roster.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings
So far this preseason, Patterson has managed just two receptions for 20 yards. Against the Chargers on Saturday, he was tackled for a loss on an end-around and slipped on a kick return, missing the opportunity for a big gain. With more drops (seven) than touchdowns (five) over his career, the Vikings selected a potential replacement in Laquon Treadwell in this year’s draft. Patterson’s contribution on special teams may save him, but as a receiver, he hasn’t hit the heights of his rookie campaign (2013) for some time.
2. Gosder Cherilus, RT, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay’s front office recommitted to Demar Dotson, re-signing him to a three-year deal this offseason. Filling in last season due to injury, Cherilus struggled. He ranked 66th overall amongst offensive tackles, giving up 39 combined pressures (four sacks, seven hits). Against backups this preseason, he’s failed to raise his game. Due $4.5 million this season, all of which can be saved with his release, Cherilus’ roster spot is far from secure.
3. Xavier Su’a-Filo, LG, Texans
A former second-round pick, Su’a-Filo is yet to justify his lofty draft status on the field. Selected with the 33rd overall pick in 2014, the former UCLA Bruin is yet to show NFL-caliber talent. This preseason, he’s graded negatively in every game, giving up a sack and three hurries in 51 snaps. His issues in pass protection are not new, unfortunately; Su’a-Filo ranked 62nd out of 72 tackles in pass-blocking efficiency last season, giving up four sacks, seven hits, and 15 pressures over 325 snaps. Although running with the first team currently, Oday Aboushi (a late-round 2013 selection) is making a strong push for his job.
4. Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins
One of the worst free-agent signings last offseason, Cameron is showing no signs of changing the narrative around his deal. He’s had a nightmare buildup to 2016, dropping two of five targets with just two receptions for 11 yards. Coming off a season in which he caught only 35 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns, Cameron’s roster spot could be in danger. Fortunately for his camp, he will still count $7 million in dead money if he is released, boosting his chances of making the team.
5. Dee Ford, OLB, Chiefs
Undersized, productive edge rushers attract Andy Reid. Unlike Brandon Graham, however, Ford has experienced a slow start to his NFL career. He’s yet to register a single pressure this preseason, a concerning omen. The tea leaves make for grim reading for a player yet to manage 20 knockdowns in his two-year career. Last year, he earned a pass-rush grade of only 43.6, with 38 combined pressures. The clock is ticking on a previously-promising prospect.
6. Tyson Alualu, DT, Jaguars
Derided for selecting him at 10th overall, the Jaguars’ persistence with Alualu appears to be based more on stubbornness than on-field production. Although short of depth at one-technique, Alualu’s roster spot is far from assured. He is currently ranked 194th out of 207 qualifying tackles this preseason, despite working against backups regularly. His stat sheet reads just one hurry and a blank in the stops column. Alualu has not graded positively once in his six seasons, suggesting the prognosis at the time of his selection was most likely accurate.
7. Devon Still, DT, Texans
Having already been released by the Bengals, Still is facing an uphill battle to remain on the veteran minimum in Houston. Failing to generate a single stop in the preseason thus far is unlikely to endear him to the coaches; adjusting to a new scheme is only going to further complicate matters. With just 526 snaps to this point in his career, including none a season ago, Still needs to fight for his NFL career.
8. Justin Gilbert, CB, Browns
Expectations were high for Gilbert after being selected eighth overall by the Browns in 2014. With only 424 snaps in two years, however, reality is setting in. He has been a little improved this preseason, recording a 50.0 completion percentage and surrendering 109 yards, but is still a long way from where he needs to be. The new regime has no vested interest in the success of the holdover, and are unlikely to remain patient for long. He has allowed a QB rating of 85.7 thus far in his career, giving up 33 completions (48 targets) for 423 yards, one touchdown, one interception and seven pass deflections. A shortage of corners in Cleveland might save him, but the outlook remains bleak.
9. J.J. Wilcox, S, Cowboys
Big hitters often struggle to make wrap-up tackles when required. Wilcox is overly aggressive, struggling to keep himself under control. Our bottom-ranked safety this preseason also highlights the lack of depth in the Cowboys’ secondary. He has missed three of eight attempted tackles, and given up all three targets for 83 yards. Mistakes can be disastrous at the safety level, and Wilcox makes a lot of them.