Written by: The Blitz Team
We are just a few weeks away from teams kicking off training camps! Each team will start of with a 90-man roster, and in a little over a month they will work that down to 53 players. This is a process that can be difficult to navigate through and it’s stressful for players that are on the roster bubble. Sometimes players find themselves in the right situation in which a team lacks depth at a position, so it offers them a better chance to make the roster. On the flipside, increased competition may mean unemployment for others. For this month’s All32, we take a look at players we believe have a chance at making the 53-man roster.
Terrence Magee (RB)
Atlanta has one of the best running back situations in the league, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman leading a two man wrecking crew. Magee has been a career backup/special teams/practice squad player his whole career, and is reaching the end of the deal he signed with the Falcons in 2017. Atlanta drafted running back Ito Smith with their 4th round pick this year, who was an extremely productive college back with 4,538 rushing yards and 42 TDs in his college career. Magee barely got any touches behind Freeman and Coleman as it is, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t even make the roster given Smith’s presence as the backup. He will have to seriously impress in training camp and make an impact on special teams to be kept on the roster.
Cameron Artis-Payne (RB)
It’s hard to imagine the Panthers without Jonathan Stewart rumbling down the field, but the trustworthy RB has moved on after 10 seasons. This is an opportunity for a player like Cameron Artis-Payne to step up after a few seasons of lurking in the background. Artis-Payne still has Christian McCaffrey and newly-added CJ Anderson ahead of him, and he doesn’t quite have the large build that Stewart had that made him a unique option for the Panthers. CAP clearly hasn’t wowed the Panthers’ coaching staff yet, but he showed some potential vs. Miami last season, one of the few games he appeared in. One would think he may not have many chances left to solidify a spot on the team, but he has as good a shot as any this year.
Perry Griffith IV
New Orleans Saints
Manti Te’o (LB)
Manti Te’o’s play in 2017 was solid, but not very spectacular. The Saints added an inside linebacker in free agency with the signing of Demario Davis, so when looking at the new depth chart Manti now projects as a backup behind Davis, A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone, who have a much better chance of making the roster. It’s not only the new depth working against Te’o, but his lack of production on special teams. A player can usually hang around if they can contribute on that unit, or else they’re usually a healthy scratch come game day.
While no one is knocking the great signing he was last year, the reloaded Saints defense may simply no longer have a need for the aging run-stopper. He does not provide much versatility on defense, and will not make an impact on special teams. The only way I can see him making the roster is if there is an injury, or if the inside linebacker has an absolutely lights out camp.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bobo Wilson (WR)
Although they may not get a ton of credit around the NFL, the Buccaneers have arguably the most stacked and competitive group of receivers in the league. Between Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humphries, there’s only room for one or two more receivers on the 53-man roster. Typically teams keep six but only dress five wideouts come gameday; this has created some stiff competition for the remaining spots in the receiver room. Players like Freddie Martino and Bernard Reedy have bounced back and forth between the practice squad and active roster over the past two seasons. Undrafted rookie receiver Justin Watson out of Pennsylvania has drawn Jordy Nelson-like comparisons from the coaching staff. And last year’s Hard Knocks standout Bobo Wilson has close ties to Jameis Winston from their time spent together at Florida State University.
It could be any man’s job at this point. My guess is that Bobo’s playmaking ability will set him apart from the rest. He’s got great hands, decent route running ability, and has experience as a returner. Last season he struggled to grasp the playbook early on but eventually seen some action late in the year. Wilson brings a different style of play to the receiving corps, and that alone will set him apart from Reedy, Martino, and Watson to secure his place on the team in 2018.