Today will be the end of the line for at least 22 players who were on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster for Wednesday's final preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
"It's difficult, it's peoples' lives but we're gonna do what's best for the Bucs," said Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano at his Thursday post-practice press conference (via Buccaneers.com). "I don't take it lightly."
The reality is that the players who have or will be waived have already been given the bad news by the team. The Ledger reported that running back Mossis Madu, safety Larry Asante and defensive tackle Frank Okam have been cut.
None of those would be surprising.
The running-back depth chart will show Doug Martin as the starter, LeGarrette Blount as his backup and Michael Smith behind them. Smith's preseason work earned him the starting kick-returner job, and he clearly emerged as an effective runner in Mike Sullivan's offense when given the opportunity.
Asante's departure could mean that Cody Grimm has found his way to the 53-man roster along with starters Ronde Barber and Mark Barron and backup Ahmad Black.
Tough decisions also loom at wide receiver. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are the starters. Arrelious Benn and Preston Parker are in. Schiano praised Sammie Stroughter's performance in the putrid loss to the Redskins. "I thought Sammie played one of his best games, so throw that in the hopper," he said in his Thursday presser.
Stroughter's performance as the team's most reliable punt returner most likely will land him a roster spot.
That puts Tiquan Underwood on the bubble.
"All depends on what they do besides play receiver," Schiano said of the decision process. "Number one, how many do we keep, and in that, who is it?"
The Bucs have typically carried six receivers.
NFL teams have until 9 p.m. Friday night to make their decisions.
The Bucs may be working to the deadline. The team is lacking stability and depth on the offensive and defensive lines, and it's already a given that some linemen waived by other teams could end up with the Buccaneers on Saturday.
For now, however, it's a waiting and guessing game. Schiano said to pay attention to the "magic numbers" of 61, 53 and 46. They represent the practice squad, the final 53-man roster and the 46 players who are active for regular-season games.
News update: The Ledger confirms Tiquan Underwood's release.