Aug. 23, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Linebacker Nico Johnson (57) tackles Vikings cornerback/punt returner Marcus Sherels (35) at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs waived Johnson on Aug. 30. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Virtually every initial 53-man rosters brings surprises, and Saturday’s 22 moves showed a few.
The Chiefs’ cut downs included the release of 17 players: Safety Jonathon Amaya, safety Malcolm Bronson, fullback Jordan Campbell, defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, wide receiver Mark Harrison, guard Ricky Henry, linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, linebacker Nico Johnson, defensive tackle Kyle Love, cornerback Justin Rogers, defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, kicker Ryan Succop, linebacker Devan Walker, offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb, cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, running back Charcandrick West and wide receiver Fred Williams.
The Chiefs also placed quarterback Tyler Bray (ankle, knee) and wide receiver Kyle Williams (shoulder) on injured reserve, and defensive end Mike Catapano (illness) on the reserve/non-football injury list.
Bray’s injuries in the final preseason game prevented a quarterback conundrum, as the Chiefs are set with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and rookie Aaron Murray.
The final two moves were an administrative formality, as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and right tackle Donald Stephenson were placed on the reserve/suspended list.
Click here for an overview of the current 53-man roster.
In the meantime, here are some takeaways from Saturday’s moves.
Henry, a third-year pro out of Nebraska, arguably raised the most eyebrows.
The Chiefs originally claimed Henry off waivers from the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 20, 2013, but he landed on injured reserve before the start of the regular season with an arm injury.
The 6-4, 310-pound Henry signed a reserve/future deal in January and emerged late in training camp, eventually taking first-team repetitions at left and right guard as the Chiefs tinkered with personnel groupings.
With starting left guard Jeff Allen moved to right tackle for the third preseason game, Henry rotated first-team repetitions at left guard with Jeff Linkenbach.
The Chiefs like Henry, so anticipating him making the initial roster made sense, especially in light of the offensive line issues with Stephenson suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
The Chiefs signed Mike McGlynn late in the week to offer depth. McGlynn also has experience in the system having played for coach Andy Reid for three seasons (2008-10) while with the Philadelphia Eagles.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TAKE II
There are literally two.
The first surrounds the Chiefs keeping five running backs: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas, Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight.
The second surrounds the Chiefs keeping four tight ends: Anthony Fasasno, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Richard Gordon.
But given the fluid nature of a roster, no player is safe.
Keep in mind the Chiefs have roster exemptions while Bowe and Stephenson serve respective suspensions. The Chiefs will have to make a roster move before bringing them back to the active roster.
Additionally, there could be more roster subtractions over the weekend to accommodate any player or players the Chiefs potentially claim off waivers.
The departure of linebacker Nico Johnson, free safety Malcolm Bronson and defensive tackle Kyle Love signals the Chiefs are content with depth.
The first hint of a crack on the wall for Johnson, last season’s fourth-round pick out of Alabama, surrounded the Chiefs bringing in two veteran linebackers during the offseason. The Chiefs signed Joe Mays in March, and then Josh Mauga a day before the start of training camp.
Bronson, who spent the 2013 season on the practice squad, showed signs of promise during organized team activities when he filled in at the nickel position for a then-hurt Chris Owens.
The second-year pro out of McNeese State appeared to have a good training camp, and made a splash in the first preseason game with a pick-6 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Chiefs, however, traded for safety Kelcie McCray from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for guard Rishaw Johnson before the third preseason game. McCray brings three years of NFL experience and his arrival made Bronson expendable.
The 6-1, 315-pound Love, who enters his fifth season, missed the first preseason game with an ankle injury. He emerged in the final three preseason games to total nine tackles (six solo) and a sack.
Kicker Ryan Succop, whom the Chiefs drafted in the seventh round as Mr. Irrelevant during the 2009 NFL Draft, was released in favor of rookie Cairo Santos.
This may have been a business decision over anything else, as Succop and Santos went 3-of-3 on their field goal attempts during the preseason.
Still, Succop was due a $1.95 million base salary in 2014 and $2.75 million base salary in 2015. Santos, an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, is due $420,000 in 2014.
Succop, a sixth-year pro, shouldn’t have a problem signing with a kicker-needy team.
All six players from the 2014 NFL Draft made the initial 53-man roster:
• First-round pick (23rd overall) – outside linebacker Dee Ford
• Third-round pick (87th overall) – cornerback Phillip Gaines
• Fourth-round pick (124th overall) – running back De’Anthony Thomas
• Fifth-round pick (163rd overall) – quarterback Aaron Murray
• Sixth-round pick (193rd overall) – guard Zach Fulton
• Sixth-round pick (200th overall) – offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Kicker Santos joins wide receiver Albert Wilson out of Georgia State and strong safety Daniel Sorensen out of Brigham Young University as 2014 undrafted rookie free agents to make the initial 53-man roster.
PRACTICE SQUAD BOUND?
Provided they clear waivers, it wouldn’t surprise to see the Chiefs sign Ricky Henry and wide receiver Mark Harrison to the practice squad.
Free safety Malcolm Bronson and potentially linebacker Nico Johnson are also candidates.