The 2012 preseason is in the books, and roster cuts are happening all over the league as teams are required to get down to the 53-man limit by 9 p.m. this evening.
I am going to attempt to keep this thing updated throughout the day, so the order of cuts is more chronological than it is empirical.
But even still, today's list of cuts starts with a reasonable surprise.
P Ryan Donahue
Ben Graham is still the Detroit Lions' starting punter, and this time he earned it on skill, not injury. Coming into the preseason, Graham had to be considered an underdog to win the starting punting job. It even seemed like the Lions signing him was a mere afterthought.
Donahue was, after all, the man who beat out veteran Nick Harris last season for the starting punting job. But Graham did fantastic work for the Lions while Donahue was hurt last season, and he carried that solid play into this preseason, capping his work with a particularly good game against Buffalo which might have tipped the scales in his favor.
So one of the biggest surprises out of preseason is the Lions going with a new punter for the second time in as many seasons, and it's the 38-year-old rugby-style punter over the 24-year-old Donahue. Somebody try telling Donahue right now that the fourth preseason game is meaningless.
OG Pat Boyle
The other cut announced at the same time as Donahue's was the cut of Boyle, and this one is far less surprising. The Lions have had surprising performances from a couple of interior linemen this preseason. Boyle wasn't one of them, but as an undrafted rookie, he is eligible for the practice squad, where he might be a decent fit.
CB Alphonso Smith
Alphonso Smith has been cut, according to Pro Football Talk:
This is a little bit surprising considering Smith has been with the team for a couple of years now, but it's less surprising when you take into account his awful preseason performance.
Still, the Lions are extremely thin at cornerback, so this might be the last cut they make at the position (Ross Weaver might be another). If anything, the Lions are probably watching the waiver wire very closely for CBs at this point.
UPDATE: 4:00 PM
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has tweeted a torrent of new cuts:
In this group, the only real surprise is LB Carmen Messina, who was one of the more productive linebackers for the Lions in the second half of most preseason games. But he imploded on special teams last night and likely cost himself a roster spot at that moment. Look for him as a practice squad target, though.
One of the most notable things about this list is the players they haven't cut yet. Players like DE Everette Brown, QB Kellen Moore, WRs Lance Long, Maurice Stovall and Patrick Edwards, and DBs Kevin Barnes and Reshard Langford could theoretically have been in with those cuts, but they weren't.
Stay tuned, as the roster is now down to 63 players. We're more than halfway there.
UPDATE: 53-Player Limit Reached
Okay, so it wasn't exactly up to the minute. But regardless, here are the rest of roster cuts that got the Lions to a final 53-man roster. The biggest news is that Kellen Moore is not one of them.
WRs Lance Long, Maurice Stovall, Patrick Edwards
This is surprising, as I expected at least one of these guys to make the roster for special teams alone.
Against Buffalo, Long had a great day receiving, Edwards had a big punt return, and Stovall... well, Stovall had a drop or two and wasn't notable on special teams.
But Stovall was the only man of the three that had experience with the team. Instead of these three, the Lions opted to keep newcomer Kassim Osgood, who apparently made enough of an impact in his short time on the team to justify earning the fifth of five receiver slots.
OG Rodney Austin
The word was that Austin was having a decent camp. Clearly it wasn't good enough, though that might be more attributed to the Lions opting to keep five offensive tackles, many of them with multi-position versatility.
DE Everette Brown
Brown started and finished the preseason strong. In the middle part he disappeared. Brown played well enough to earn a spot with some team this year, but it won't be the Lions.
Blame a strong rotation and rookie Ronnell Lewis for making it prohibitively difficult to make the roster at the DE position.
DT Andre Fluellen
Finally, the Free Fluellen movement has succeeded.
I'm joking, there was no movement. Just me predicting year after year that Fluellen would go find a 3-4 team to play DE in as a 5-technique, which is more suited to his size and skill set than any position in a 4-3.
I don't know if that will actually happen, and I'm sure that Fluellen would rather have his job today than a theoretical chance to flourish in a different system. But Fluellen's career shouldn't be over. There's no shame in failing to beat out Sammie Lee Hill and Nick Fairley for a roster spot.
CB Justin Miller
After the Lions released Ross Weaver and Alphonso Smith, Miller was probably feeling pretty good about himself as the Lions' sixth cornerback.
Unfortunately for him, the Lions opted to only keep five. It wasn't a bad run for a guy who hasn't been on an active roster since 2009, though. Even if the Lions had kept him, I wouldn't guess the Lions are done making moves in the secondary, anyway.
S Reshard Langford
What's shocking here isn't that Langford was cut, it's that he was the only safety who was cut. Ricardo Silva and Amari Spievey both made the roster, despite shaky camps and preseasons.
Langford was actually pretty solid on special teams, but clearly it wasn't enough, probably because he was a non-factor in the defense.
RB Mikel Leshoure (NOT cut, but doesn't count against 53-man requirement while suspended)
Technically, this is a roster move the Lions are just putting off for a couple of weeks.
While Leshoure serves his two-game suspension, he doesn't count as one of the players on the 53-man roster. So when they go to activate him in two weeks, the Lions will need to make their final cut.