We’ve become accustomed to NFL players getting released a few at a time. The roster narrowed from 90 players to 75, and from 75 to 53. This season is different. Players will be eliminated in one cut – 90 to 53.
The Panthers played Pittsburgh at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday. They have until 4 p.m. Saturday to make their cuts.
For fans, the fourth preseason exhibition game is the least important. Starters rarely play, and if they do it’s a guest appearance. But for many players this is the final opportunity to prove their worth.”
You can almost hear them think.
“Keep me, coach. Watch. You see what I just did? Remember all the good stuff I did in practice? It’s on film. I hope the bad plays aren’t. Look, coach, I know I don’t come to you with a lot of hype. I know I'm not the biggest or the fastest. But I’ll play for minimum wage. I’ve always been good, and I always will be. I promise, coach. Nobody wants this more than me. Please don't let it end like this."
Some of the players that stick will be temps. Teams have until noon Sept. 3 to add players other teams have cut
That’s a harrowing Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for players on the edge. The players that don’t make the Carolina roster will walk into Bank of America Stadium and be intercepted by a team employee. The employee will guide them upstairs to the office of general manager Marty Hurney or head coach Ron Rivera. Doors will shut and, as gently as possible, Hurney and Rivera tell the players they didn’t make the cut.
It’s a miserable day for players. It’s miserable for general managers and coaches, too.
After leaving Hurney and Rivera, players go downstairs. They turn in their uniforms to equipment manager Jackie Miles and leave. Once outside, they are Panthers no more.
If you went to camp, if you watched the exhibitions, you probably have identified an underdog you want to make the roster.
Mine, defensive end Drew Iddings out of South Dakota, already is gone. At 6-5 and 290 pounds, he twice won the South Dakota state high school high jump title. He was signed July 28 and released with an injury on Aug. 14.
Did the Panthers make a mistake? Every time they cut one of my long shots, which happens approximately every summer, they make a mistake. But according to NFLShop.com, Iddings’ T-shirts still are available. The league knows. The league always knows.