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Cut down day: NFL teams pare rosters to 53

Courtesy of the Associated Press | 9/6/2009, 5:47 p.m.

David Tyree has gone from Super Bowl hero to unemployed hero. Tyree was released by the New York Giants on Saturday in the final cutdown that also featured a late trade, with backup tight end Michael Matthews, another Super Bowl veteran, being shipped to the New England Patriots for a conditional draft pick.

Tyree missed last season after injuring his hamstring while coming back from offseason knee surgery. The 29-year-old wide receiver battled minor groin, hamstring and knee injuries in training camp this year and played only two preseason games, missing the last two.

"It's obviously a time of mixed feelings," Tyree said Saturday. "This is part of the journey. It's not like it's a great day. But at the same time I'm filled with expectations about what's next on this track, and I'm excited, as well."
Tyree made one of the most remarkable catches in Super Bowl history some 19 months ago when the Giants defeated the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. With the Giants trailing 14-10 late in the fourth quarter and faced with a third-and-5, Tyree hauled in a 32-yard pass from Eli Manning, pinning the ball against his helmet as defender Rodney Harrison yanked him to the ground.

The play set up Manning's winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.

"It's the big bang theory," said Tyree, who caught the ball after Manning avoided a sack. "It's a moment that obviously will never be taken, it's a moment that I will cherish. I said after the game, if I never get a chance to play football again, I can't be upset with the way my career went."

The winner between the ex-Heisman Trophy contenders battling for the Washington Redskins third-string quarterback job? Try "none of the above."

The Redskins placed Colt Brennan on injured reserve with hip and hamstring injuries, and his competition for the job, Chase Daniel, was one of the final cuts. Brennan aggravated a nagging hamstring problem in Thursday night's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he's also been battling a previously undisclosed hip injury. Brennan missed much of the offseason work in 2008 after surgery on his other hip.

Veteran running back Dominic Rhodes was released by the Buffalo Bills, who continued shaking up their offense a day after firing coordinator Turk Schonert. Rhodes' agent, Todd France, confirmed his client had been released earlier in the day, before the team announced Rhodes was among the 18 players cut in order for the team to establish its 53-player roster.

Rhodes' release was considered a surprise as he was expected to serve as a primary backup to Fred Jackson to open the season at New England on Sept. 14 while starter Marshawn Lynch serves an NFL-imposed three-game suspension.

Rex Grossman's performance in Houston's final preseason game not only earned him a spot on the final roster, it gave him a chance to be the Texans' backup quarterback. Grossman missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He returned Friday night to throw two touchdown passes in Houston's 27-20 win over Tampa Bay and survive the last round of cuts.

Running back Danny Woodhead has made the New York Jets. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Woodhead made a strong case after running for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason finale against Philadelphia on Thursday night. Already a fan favorite, the former NCAA career rushing leader spent last season on injured reserve because of a knee injury.

In contrast, John David Booty made a poor throw at the worst possible time. A day after having an interception returned for a touchdown in the preseason finale against Dallas, Booty was among the final cuts for the Minnesota Vikings, leaving the team with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels behind starter Brett Favre.

Booty was in his second season as a developmental quarterback out of USC. He does have practice squad eligibility, so the Vikings could bring him back if another team does not sign him. Booty, a fifth-round pick in 2008, likely sealed his fate Friday night. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, infuriating coach Brad Childress.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut kicker Matt Bryant and settled on entering the regular season with four quarterbacks. Bryant was released even though his 83.1 field goal rate in four seasons is the best in franchise history. He injured his right hamstring in practice last month and did not kick in the preseason.

Former Jets kicker Mike Nugent, signed as a free agent during the offseason, handled all of the kicking duties in preseason and made 6 of 9 field goals.

Coach Raheem Morris initially projected he'd only carry three quarterbacks into the Sept. 13 opener against Dallas, but second-year pro Josh Johnson earned a spot behind Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown and first-round draft pick Josh Freeman with a solid training camp and preseason. McCown was later traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for an undisclosed pick in next year's NFL draft.

Another team made a QB move when Jeff Garcia, who was signed by Oakland in the offseason to push JaMarcus Russell and serve as a mentor to the former No. 1 overall draft pick, was among 22 players let go by the Raiders.

The decision to release Garcia means Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye will head into the regular season as Russell's backups.