The Denver Broncos have finished trimming the fat off the roster. When teams have to get down to 53 players, it is always a tough and solemn process. Over the course of the offseason, the Broncos have worked hard to find the best possible team as they set to make a Super Bowl run.
The team's official website has a list of the 53-man roster after the final cuts. On Sunday, the Broncos made further changes by releasing fullback Jacob Hester and adding linebacker Adrian Robinson. Now the team is ready to take on the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener on Thursday night.
The final cuts came and went without any major surprises. However, there are a few situations to highlight after cut-down day.
Here are a few players I thought surprisingly made the final roster and a few players I felt should have made the team.
In the preseason finale, Gerell Robinson had a fantastic performance against the Arizona Cardinals. He was targeted eight times by quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. Robinson finished the game with five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
GRob is to Brock what DT is to Peyton. #Broncos— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 30, 2013
After the game, Osweiler commented to the media that he would like to see Robinson make the final roster.
Osweiler on connection with GRob "the thing with Gerell is I can trust him. I know he’s going to make the catch. I know he’s open" #Broncos— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 30, 2013
Instead of him making the team with a strong performance, we saw Robinson cut by the Broncos for the second year in a row. The Broncos kept Robinson on the practice squad last year and have the same plan for him this year. Robinson was, in fact, one of the seven players added to the practice squad on Sunday.
I thought Robinson should make the final roster after the development he showed in training camp and the preseason. If no other team plucks him off the practice squad, I fully expect Robinson to make the team in 2014.
In one strong preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, undrafted free agent C.J. Anderson did enough to make the final roster. At least that's the way it appears from the outside looking in, and some may be surprised Anderson made the final roster.
However, because I am out at Dove Valley (Broncos headquarters) multiple times per week and watched Anderson every day in rookie minicamp, OTAs and training camp, I can firmly state his spot was earned by more than just one game. The sum of his body of work was more than enough for him to make the 53-man roster.
During the 49ers game, it became a culmination of everything we'd seen building this offseason.
I love the way C.J. Anderson is running the ball, cutting back against the grain, showing toughness, leg drive #Broncos— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 9, 2013
On August 15, Anderson went down with a sprained MCL. The team is being cautious with him as he returns from this knee injury, and he hasn't practiced since he sustained it. John Fox told me last week that there was no update on Anderson's knee and he is still considered day-to-day.
For an undrafted free agent to make the final roster after playing in only one preseason game, you know that Anderson had to make a big impression on this coaching staff.
In the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Denver Broncos selected Tavarres King out of the University of Georgia. Many thought the speedy wide receiver would be a near lock to make the final roster as a reserve player.
Instead, we saw King among the list of the players the Broncos waived on Saturday. The shock value was even higher with this cut because the team also waived second-year wide receiver Gerell Robinson. Most media around the team felt they would cut one but not both.
King did a good job in training camp of showing off his trademark speed. He works through the jam and can get on top of the defense in a hurry. King also showed good run-after-the-catch ability in practice.
The rookie still has a raw skill set as a route-runner. Too often he would tip off the direction of the route before making his break. That may work at Georgia, but NFL cornerbacks read body language accurately and love to jump routes. King had a problem catching contested passes because he failed to gain adequate separation.
It was announced on Sunday that King was one of the seven players signed to the practice squad. He'll be able to come back next season and compete for a roster spot. King also gives the team depth at the position in case injuries strike during the regular season.
In the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Denver Broncos selected Zac Dysert out of Miami (OH) University. Dysert was highly regarded by some in the media but fell to the last round of the draft because of inconsistencies with his game.
Dysert struggled early on in training camp and only played in one preseason game. In the preseason finale against the Cardinals, he finished with 163 yards passing and one touchdown. However, he had less than a 50 percent completion rate that day. Like fellow rookie C.J. Anderson, it was more than just one preseason game that caused Dysert to make the team.
I've watched Dysert every day that's been open to the media at Dove Valley and noted a few small improvements to his game over the summer.
I've seen Dysert make subtle improvements thru camp, Gase says “He’s done a good job with the volume that we’re giving him right now."— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 30, 2013
Many teams in the NFL only carry two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. We could have seen Dysert cut and put on the practice squad, but the Broncos must have feared another team would scoop him up on waivers. He'll compete as the third-string quarterback and learn behind both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.
The move to waive Jacob Hester came as a surprise because he initially made the 53-man roster when it was first announced on Saturday.
However, on Saturday night, the team called Hester with the bad news. According to the Denver Post, Hester was shocked by the call, saying, "I’m a little bit surprised, a little shocked.”
Hester was one of the more versatile players on the team and could line up at fullback, running back and even outside at receiver. The team had showed many different ways to use the veteran during training camp, and he seemed like a virtual lock for the final roster.
Now the Broncos move forward with only four running backs on the roster. One of those backs, rookie C.J. Anderson, is coming back from a knee injury and is expected to miss another two to four weeks.
The Denver Broncos have made several transactions this offseason to find more competition at the center position. Adding free agent Steve Vallos was one of those moves.
Vallos didn't do much to impress during training camp or the preseason, and I'm quite shocked he ended up making the final roster.
He's listed as the backup to starting center Manny Ramirez on the team's initial depth chart. I don't believe Vallos' roster spot is safe, and he could be let go when J.D. Walton returns from his ankle injury later this year.
Jeremiah Johnson has been an impressive player in training camp over the last few years but has gotten little opportunity to prove himself in the regular season. He's an explosive player in the mold of starting running back Ronnie Hillman.
This entire offseason, new Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has been talking about the desire for explosive plays from the running back position. One would have thought Johnson might have a great shot to make the final roster with his skill set.
He only needed to stay healthy and impress. Johnson did neither. He missed a majority of training camp with a toe injury and finished with 10 carries for 26 yards and one touchdown in the preseason finale.
In the end, it wasn't enough for the veteran and he was released. Johnson has no practice-squad eligibility left and will have to make an active roster if he wants his pro career to continue. I have an idea of where Johnson may end up:
I wouldn't be surprised if the former Oregon Ducks running back went to Philadelphia. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was the offensive coordinator at Oregon when Johnson was there.
Some players were acquired later in the preseason but did enough to make the final roster. Paris Lenon was added on August 20, 2013 and was a bit of a surprise player on the 53-man roster.
The Broncos are the eighth NFL team Lenon has played for during his 13-year pro career, which includes one year in the XFL when he played for the Memphis Maniax.
Lenon has lost a step or two but is a savvy veteran who can diagnose quickly and understand where plays are headed as they unfold in front of him. He's unlikely to see the field much as the backup at middle linebacker behind Wesley Woodyard.
Lenon's roster spot could be in jeopardy when Von Miller returns from his six-game suspension.
The Broncos need all the pass-rushers they can get their hands on. Beal was a favorite of some in the local media, and there were some who were shocked when he was waived.
Beal missed 2012 with a knee injury but was doing some good things in training camp and the preseason. He earned the praise of teammates and was flashing some ability to get after the quarterback.
With Von Miller suspended the first six games of the season, it was a bit interesting that Beal couldn't make the final cut.
Jammer just isn't the player he used to be. He was added by the Broncos earlier this year to compete for the free safety job. It was evident early in training camp that the transition to safety was a rough one for Jammer.
Late in camp, the Broncos moved Jammer back to cornerback, and that's where he played in the preseason finale. The veteran gives them depth as a sub-package player but won't see the field unless the Broncos are in a dime package.
With Champ Bailey recovering from a foot injury, the Broncos believed they needed as much cornerback help as they could get.