Preseason auditions: Former Utah players making their case to earn an NFL roster spot (6 items)
When NFL training camps began, somewhere around 2,800 players were listed on the league's 32 team rosters.
By the end of August, a little more than a month after these camps began, only 1,696 of those players will find themselves on the active/inactive list of an NFL team.
In a competitive market where around 40 percent of applicants don't earn a job, NFL training camps and preseason action amount to a proving ground for those hoping to make playing football their profession.
Dozens of players with Utah ties are among those fighting to find a spot on the 53-man roster. Soon, they will know if the work has paid off.
Prior to 2 p.m. MT on Aug. 27, NFL teams have to reduce their roster to 75 players. The big cut comes four days later on Aug. 31, when teams must have their active/inactive list trimmed to 53 players by 4 p.m. MT.
Here's a look at five players with Utah ties who have had strong performances during the preseason, and the odds they face in turning this into a roster spot:
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1 of 6. Brad Sorensen, San Diego Chargers quarterback
In Week 1, he completed 7-of-10 passes for 84 passes and an impressive scrambling touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. The next week, Sorensen completed 8-of-14 passes for 126 yards and another touchdown vs. the Chicago Bears. While San Diego lost both games, the former T'Bird has a NFL QB rating of 118.4 in preseason play.
Sorensen's performances have sparked some debate as to whether he could challenge Charlie Whitehurst, an eight-year league veteran, for the team's backup quarterback position.
“We’re giving everyone an opportunity to compete,” San Diego first-year coach Mike McCoy told the San Diego Union-Tribune following the Chargers' game against the Seahawks, in regards to his backup quarterbacks.
“Like we said before, the depth chart is what it is today. We’re just letting it go. Everyone’s going to get an opportunity, and we have a lot of time left to make all of those decisions.”
2 of 6. Bryan Kehl, Washington Redskins linebacker
It wasn't enough to keep him from getting cut, though Washington brought him back near the end of the 2012 season.
This year, the former BYU linebacker is hoping to avoid getting cut preseason again, and on Monday, he put up another strong performance. During Washington's 24-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kehl led the Redskins with six total tackles — including two solo — and had 1.5 sacks.
His best play came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half, when Kehl went untouched and sacked Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski for an eight-yard loss.
Currently, Kehl is listed as the backup at one of the team's inside linebacker positions.
3 of 6. Chuck Jacobs, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver
Among those veterans is former BYU star Austin Collie, a recent acquisition of the 49ers.
Jacobs made a strong impression last week, however, catching the game-winning touchdown for the 49ers in a 15-13 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
He finished the game with two catches for 28 yards, second best on the team. The week before, Jacobs had two catches for 27 yards in the 49ers' loss to the Denver Broncos.
4 of 6. Kerwynn Williams, Indianapolis Colts running back
During work as a running back and a returner, the former Utah State running back has 26 touches for 178 yards during the Colts' first two preseason games.
In Indianapolis' Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Williams led the team with 21 rushing yards on four carries.
One of the reasons the Colts brought in Williams was to handle kickoff return duties, and he leads the team in preseason play, averaging 18.5 yards per kickoff return.
5 of 6. Moe Lee, Baltimore Ravens cornerback
“It's going really good,” Lee told the Baltimore Sun. “I'm just trying to learn as much as possible from the veterans. ... I'm used to being the underdog. It's a pretty good situation. I make plays. I don't really think about it. I try to be consistent in everything I'm doing.”
During summer mini-camps, Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin singled out Lee.
“He just kind of seems to be around the ball quite a bit, No. 34,” Austin told baltimoreravens.com. “Now, when that gets into games and real-life situations, we will see how that plays out. But, he’s a young guy who’s really kind of caught my eye.”