Crowded position battles will inevitably lead to some high-profile names joining the ranks of the preseason cuts. They could include a quarterback who seems certain to miss out in the Miami Dolphins' three-way duel to start and a Super Bowl-winning tight end facing fierce competition while he comes back from serious injury.
The following five players will be the most surprising roster cuts of the NFL's preseason:
Brandon Meriweather, S, Washington Redskins
The decision to take a chance on Brandon Meriweather was a surprising choice by Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. Meriweather has had his share of discipline issues on and off the field, the latest of which is a 180-day suspended sentence for DUI.
That's a bad way to begin life with a new team, especially when there is no shortage of competition at your position. The Redskins also added Tanard Jackson and Madieu Williams in free agency and youngster Dejon Gomes and veteran Reed Doughty will also vie for playing time at safety.
They may have only signed him this offseason, but if Meriweather doesn't produce a strong preseason showing, the Redskins could become the third team to quickly show him the exit door.
Jake Ballard, TE, New England Patriots
When the New England Patriots swooped in to take Jake Ballard from under the noses of their Super Bowl conquerors the New York Giants, it was one of the surprise moves of the offseason. However, Ballard's stay in New England could be ended just as swiftly, given the numbers the Patriots have at tight end.
Aside from Ballard, the Patriots also added Daniel Fells and Visanthe Shiancoe to provide depth behind prolific duo Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Fells and Shiancoe can combine to offer both Ballard's blocking and clutch receiving skills and neither have his injury issues.
Ballard tore his ACL during Super Bowl 46 and while he would be able to produce in 2013, is he worth the Patriots carrying him for a year, with all of the existing options at the position?
Matt Moore, QB, Miami Dolphins
Despite starting 12 games in 2011, Matt Moore could easily find himself the odd man out in the Miami Dolphins' three-way battle at quarterback. Lindy's Sports recently reported that veteran David Garrard is currently leading the depth chart.
The Dolphins also used a first-round pick to select Ryan Tannehill, so Moore's future prospects don't look great. There have been conflicting reports in the Miami press regarding how things may unfold.
The Palm Beach Post yesterday reported that Moore's place is safe, only a few days after suggesting the Dolphins aren't keen on carrying three quarterbacks, and endorsed the idea of removing his $2.75 million salary.
If Garrard continues to impress and Tannehill enjoys a good preseason, Moore could be considered surplus to requirements.
Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins
According to Spotrac.com, Chris Cooley is carrying a $3.8 million salary heading into the 2012 season. Even after years of exemplary service, that could be enough to tempt the Washington Redskins into parting ways with Cooley.
The 30-year-old has missed 21 games in the past three seasons, and the team has auditioned more than one interesting candidate for his position. Former wide receiver Niles Paul is making the transition to tight end and NFL.com recently reported that linebacker Lorenzo Alexander has begun the same process.
With Fred Davis offering a downfield receiving threat and natural blocker Logan Paulsen still on the roster, Cooley could find it tough to survive the preseason.
Trumaine Johnson, CB, St. Louis Rams
Rookie Trumaine Johnson has not had the best beginning to life in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams' third-round draft choice saw his draft status suffer due to an arrest back in October 2011, and several eligibility problems.
So missing the first day of training camp thanks to sleeping through his alarm, (via Pro Football Talk) won't have convinced the doubters that Johnson is ready take his football career seriously. The Rams have fellow rookie Janoris Jenkins, youngsters Bradley Fletcher and Josh Gordy and marquee free agent Cortland Finnegan at cornerback.
A poor first impression in the face of strong competition could convince Jeff Fisher to quickly part ways with a prominent draft pick.
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