Trying to predict which players are likely to get a visit from the Turk this time of year is not only a morbid exercise, but also somewhat of a frustrating one. With practices closed to the media, only exhibition games are available for outsiders to evaluate the level of play among players on the bubble.
Still, there weren't too many huge surprises among today's final roster cuts, but some that may come as mild surprises.
On the positive side of the ledger are Aaron Shea and Richard Alston, two players given little chance to stick with the team as Training Camp started in July. Injury history and the Browns deep WR corps, respectively, seemed to doom the two. Shea was likely saved by his versatility of being able to play tight end, fullback, and special teams, and Alston simply played his way onto the roster in pre-season.
Among the cuts of note are TE Darnell Sanders, the team's fourth-round draft choice in 2002, and is the first draft choice of the Butch Davis era released by the Browns head coach. Sanders found himself challenged by three players who have joined the Browns since the beginning of the 2003 season: Steve Heiden, Keith Heinrich, and Kellen Winslow. Pushed down on the depth chart and a non-factor on special teams, Sanders likely lost out for the same reasons that Rickey Dudley was sent on his way by Davis in 2002.
DE Mark Word is also a victim of the numbers game, as he was pushed by off-season acquisition Ebenezer Ekuban and NFL Europe standout Corey Jackson. With Ekuban perceived to bring more as a pass rusher, and Jackson having more up-side, Word simply was squeezed out. As a veteran player, Word is able to sign right away with a new club, and does not have to go on waivers. He is likely to land somewhere else soon.
Receivers Frisman Jackson and C.J. Jones were perceived to be emerging players as Training Camp dawned. Unfortunately for them, they simply lost out to Andre King and Richard Alston as the latter two players had outstanding pre-seasons. Andre King was a favorite target in exhibition games, and Alston again showed the big-play ability he demonstrated in NFL Europe. Jones was also hurt by the emergence of Dee Brown as a kick returner.
Finally, the release of CB Roosevelt Williams would have been considered a surprise as camp dawned. Williams joined the Browns late in the 2003 season and was considered to be a "find" by Butch Davis as several points. Williams was thought to be pushing upwards on the depth chart. The 2002 third-round selection struggled in his final pre-season games, particularly against Chicago, and apparently lost some of the confidence of the coaching staff.
Also cut by the Browns today were veterans DE Felipe Claybrooks, OT Scot Osborne, LB Sherrod Coates, OL Craig Osika, K Derek Schorejs, OT Chuck Klabo, DT Cedric Scott, RB Nick Maddox, DB Ricky Sharpe, FB Corey McIntyre, LB Mason Unck, TE Chad Mustard, CB Tim Wansley, and DT John Nix as well as remaining rookie free agents OT Lew Dawson and LB Uyi Osunde. Offensive lineman Jason Andersen