Lions trim roster to 78, put rookie Landes on IR
Allen Park -- The Detroit Lions trimmed its roster to 78 on Monday, cutting 10 players and placing one of the team's draft picks, long snapper Jimmy Landes, on injured reserve. The Lions still need to clear three more roster spots by Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline.
Among the players released were three vested veterans -- cornerback Crezdon Butler, tight end Matthew Mulligan and guard Geoff Schwartz.
Along with running back Stevan Ridley, who was released last week, and recently traded wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, the Lions have already cut ties with four players from general manager Bob Quinn’s first free agent class.
“It’s going to be one of those situations where it’s one of those years where we’re going to have to release some guys that are good football players,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “That’s just the way it is. I think that it’s not easy. It’s tough, it’s difficult, but those guys did a good job for us.”
Schwartz, Ridley and Kerley leave behind a combined $500,000 cap hit. Mulligan’s contract contained no guaranteed money.
Butler re-signed with the club after last season and will be remembered for his pass breakup on a two-point conversion attempt that helped the Lions snap their infamous road losing streak to the Green Bay Packers.
In addition to the vested veterans, Detroit waived seven other players -- defensive ends Louis Palmer, Deonte Gibson and Quanterus Smith, kicker Devon Bell, wide receiver Quinshad Davis, guard Chase Farris and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds.
Another roster spot was freed up by moving Landes to IR. The rookie had struggled in the third preseason game with erratic placement on both his punt and field goal snaps. The team announced he will undergo shoulder surgery.
The injury paves the way for Don Muhlbach to maintain long snapping duties for the Lions in 2016, his 13th year with the franchise.
“You never want a person to be hurt under any circumstance, but I’m glad to still be here,” Muhlbach said. “I’m not ready for it to be over yet.”
Of the cuts, Mulligan was the biggest surprise. Well known for his blocking prowess, the powerhouse tight end seemed to have a clearly defined role on a roster where the other players at his position struggle in that department. His release could signify Brandon Pettigrew is nearing a return to action.
Pettigrew, a seven-year veteran, is currently on the physically unable to perform list, recovering from a torn ACL suffered last December. He's also within the standard timetable for returning to action.
Not surprisingly, Caldwell declined to say much on the veteran’s progress.
“We’ll see, got a little time yet here and he’s still recuperating,” Caldwell said.
Mulligan's departure should also boost confidence in Eric Ebron's health. Outside of briefly taking the practice field one day last week, the former first-round pick has been sidelined since suffering a lower leg injury during the team's mock game on Aug. 6.
Speaking to the media for the first time since suffering the injury, Ebron said he was hopeful to be back for Week 1.
“That’s up to the people upstairs,” he said. “I hope. That’s all I can do, but it’s up to Caldwell and the medical staff as far as what they want to do with me Week 1.”
After the roster is down to 75 players, the Lions will host the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field Thursday night for the preseason finale for both clubs. Teams must then submit their final 53-man rosters to the league by Saturday at 4 p.m.