After what coach Jim Caldwell called a “six-month job interview” for many of the men, several Lions players had to hand in their tablets after learning they would not be a part of the initial 53-man roster.
The Lions cut 20 players Saturday and put two — wide receiver Greg Salas and defensive end Corey Wootton — on injured reserve, and those 22 transactions reduced their 75-man roster to the league’s limit of 53 due by 4 p.m.
Quarterback Kellen Moore, tight end Joseph Fauria, wide receiver Jeremy Ross and running back George Winn were the among the most notable moves as all players contributed in some way to the team in recent years. Defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo, a star this summer, didn’t make the team, neither did 2014 fourth-round pick Larry Webster, a defensive end.
Some of the players who lost jobs Saturday might land elsewhere in the NFL, but for others, their lifelong dream could’ve reached its conclusion.
“For some of them, it may be a dream deferred,” coach Jim Caldwell said Thursday. “For others, they may not ever put on a uniform again, and so I think obviously that’s the tough part of this thing.”
Defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, who had one more fumble recovery Thursday (three) than during his three years as a starter at Texas Tech (two), was among the players waived.
Fullback Emil Igwenagu played well for most of the summer, but lost the competition to fifth-round pick Michael Burton. Linebacker Julian Stanford, who appeared in 18 games on special teams the last two years, lost his apparent battle with Brandon Copeland.
The undrafted rookies who received bad news were safeties Brian Suite and Isaiah Johnson, interior offensive linemen Torrian Wilson and Al Bond, and tight end Casey Pierce.
Interior offensive linemen Braxston Cave and Joe Madsen, former Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, offensive tackle Xavier Proctor, cornerback Crezdon Butler and safety Nate Ness didn’t make the roster either.
Although teams have to trim their roster to 53 players by the deadline, the initial rosters are always fluid and some will change before Week 1. The Lions, for example, might place a player on the injured reserve with designation for return — potentially rookie cornerback Alex Carter — which would open a spot for another players, perhaps one who is initially cut this weekend.
In addition to the 53-man roster, the Lions will have 10 players on their practice squad, many of whom will be among the cuts.
Wootton suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s exhibition against the Bills and will undergo surgery. Salas left on a cart with a left knee injury in the first half, but it’s unclear how serious his injury is.
Full list of players waived or released: QB Kellen Moore; RB George Winn; FB Emil Igwenagu; WR Jeremy Ross; TEs Joseph Fauria and Casey Pierce; OL Braxston Cave, Torrian Wilson, Xavier Proctor, Joe Madsen and Al Bond; DE Larry Webster; DTs Jermelle Cudho, Jerel Worthy and Kerry Hyder; LB Julian Stanford; CB Crezdon Butler; and safeties Brian Suite, Isaiah Johnson and Nate Ness.
Players on injured reserve: DE Corey Wootton and WR Greg Salas.