“The Turk” made his first rounds today as the Denver Broncos released their initial roster cuts towards a league mandated 75 players. Final cuts to 53 will be made after the final preseason game in Dallas on Thursday and must be completed by August 30, 2014, by 4:00 pm EST. To make matters more difficult for the Broncos, it was announced that Wes Welker and Matt Prater will miss some time, due to injury and suspension respectively.
There were no eyebrow raising cuts today. The players released today were Jamar Chaney, linebacker from Mississippi State, and Winston Justice, tackle from USC. By being released, they are both eligible to sign with any NFL team. Any team signing them will not have to compensate the Broncos.
Players who were waived include: Brennan Clay, running back from Oklahoma; Greg Hardin, wide receiver from North Dakota; Jerrel Harris, linebacker from Alabama; Charles Mitchell, safety from Mississippi State; Will Perciak, defensive tackle from Colorado; Bryn Renner, quarterback from North Carolina; Chase Vaughn, defensive end from Colorado State; Jerodis Williams, running back from Furman; and Greg Wilson, wide receiver from Fordham. Waived players can be claimed by other teams. Players with less than a year of accrued NFL experience who clear waivers are eligible to be signed to the team’s 10-man practice squad once the final 53-man roster has been established.
After the completion of the first roster cuts, the remaining 75 players will have one more opportunity to impress Denver Broncos coaches in the final preseason game against the Cowboys. It is unclear at this time how Welker’s injury will affect the final roster, but it is clear that he will not play against the Cowboys. Prater will miss the first four regular season games and the team will need to find a replacement for the suspended kicker.
Wes Welker’s concussion, suffered on a hit by Texan’s D.J. Swearinger during their last pre-season game, is a major concern for the team. After missing three games last season, this is Welker’s third concussion in the last nine months. There has been a lot of discussion around Denver about his future, including placing him on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and Welker possibly having to retire from football altogether. If he is placed on the PUP list, he will have to miss the first six regular season games. According to John Fox, no determination has been made as to Welker’s availability for the season opener. He is continuing to undergo tests within the confines of the established NFL concussion protocols.
Another concern is the suspension of all-pro kicker Matt Prater, that was announced after the Texans’ game. Prater’s lawyers negotiated the suspension, which could have been for the entire season, with league officials. He will not challenge the alcohol related punishment. Any future violations by Prater will cost him a full year of playing time.
After going through the early part of training camp unscathed, the Denver Broncos now have some concerns. While the first set of released players will have little effect on the final roster, future moves will need to address the suspension of Prater and the possible loss of Welker as well.
Commentary by Hans Benes