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NFL Back End Roster Spotlight

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There will be roughly 3,000 players remaining, changing, being cut or picked up by NFL teams over the duration of training camp. Each team carries 90 players during training camp before slimming down to the official 53-man rosters before the 2015 season begins.

Tucked deep on the depth charts and buried behind second string players are another core of players yearning to establish themselves and prove to their respective coaching staffs they are worth keeping around.

Before you disregard the preseason because of the lack of star power, reflect on the large majority of players that make up the 53-man roster. This preseason there are once again players drafted and undrafted making positive impressions. The list below barely touches the surface of players who are back end roster guys ready to make an impact in 2015.

 

Larry Webster, Detroit Lions, DE

League Entry – 2014 NFL Draft 4th Round

Webster spent his first season in the NFL getting acclimated to the game and has added close to 15 pounds this off-season, getting prepared for a bigger role in the defensive line rotation. Possessing excellent size (6-foot-6, 271 pounds), it is exciting to think about his development playing opposite of budding star Ziggy Ansah.

 

Travaris Cadet, New England Patriots, RB/KR

League Entry – 2012 Undrafted

Cadet went undrafted out of Appalachian State (2012) after becoming an electrifying and versatile offensive force for the Mountaineers. The New Orleans Saints signed him after the draft and he has remained a quiet fixture on the team. Cadet signed with the Patriots as a free agent this past May. Going undrafted and reaching a second contract is a huge accomplishment and proves his ability on the field is up to NFL standards. Crafty and clever, head coach Bill Belichick will likely devise schemes that allow Cadet to (slightly) flourish in New England.

 

Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts, RB

League Entry – 2012 NFL Draft 5th Round

 

Remember Vick? Not Michael.

The poor guy who tore his knee after showing much promise his rookie season. As a rookie, he rushed for 814 yards and caught 17 passes. His first game in his second season he tore his ACL and after rehabbing and returning a year later, he tore his Achilles. Ballard could be released when cuts commence later this summer or he could re-establish himself in the Colts’ backfield. Frank Gore is a short-term fix for a possible Super Bowl run and Dan Herron proved himself more than capable of picking up the slack becoming the teams starting running back last year after Ahmad Bradshaw was hurt and Trent Richardson was phased out. Ballard currently is battling hamstring issues, but remains optimistic he’ll be back.

 

Travis Raciti, Philadelphia Eagles, DE

League Entry – 2015 Undrafted

We’re going out on a limb a bit placing Raciti amongst some of the back-end roster spotlight players since he’s battling just to make the team. He possesses a high motor that earned him an invitation to the East-West Shrine All-Star game this past January. The former San Jose State hybrid lost roughly eight pounds since the all-star game and looks quicker off the ball and is poised to contribute.

All he has to do is make the team.

 

Adarius Glanton, Carolina Panthers, LB

League Entry – 2014 Undrafted

Injuries allowed Glanton to earn starting time late last year, a particularly impressive feat taking into consideration he was an undrafted rookie. Glanton should earn more playing this season with the nuances of the game behind him. It is hard to gain any recognition with Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly in the same unit, but his play will speak for itself as the season progresses and he, like the others mentioned in this piece are back-end roster spotlight players to keep close tabs on this year.

 

Brenton Bersin, Carolina Panthers, WR

League Entry – Undrafted 2013

“After my rookie year I got cut,” Bersin explained. “Then I was out of football for a little bit.”

Bersin went to being added to the Practice Squad (in 2013) then was regulated to the 53-man roster last year. His career numbers, 13 catches for 151 yards, are numbers like Odell Beckham Jr. produces in one game, but he is edging closer to factoring into the Panthers offense. Bersin (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) demonstrates excellent adjustment to the football and provides a nice catch radius for his quarterback. Another tucked away option for the Panthers is second-year receiver Corey Brown. He is a smaller, faster option that can stretch the field, which is a desperate for a deep-play threat.

 

Demetri Goodson, Green Bay Packers, CB

League Entry – 2014 NFL Draft 6th Round

 It may sound cliché, but as the old adage goes, “excelling on special teams is your way to make a 53-man roster.”

That is exactly how Goodson proved himself to General Manager Ted Thompson, by killing it on special teams. Entering his second season, Goodson now is vying to claim more reps at cornerback and using his special teams hustle as the backdrop to bigger and brighter things in his future.

His opportunities will be scarce to get a lot of reputations, but injuries arise and if the Packers secondary gets depleted of their starters, a guy like Goodson will be a valuable replacement short-term.

 

Ronald Powell, New Orleans Saints, LB

League Entry – 2014 NFL Draft 5th Round

 Powell tore his knee twice while playing at Florida. Unfortunately, the NFL doesn’t give empathy when injuries occur when it comes to NFL Draft time. Powell rehabbed and returned and has been fighting his way back towards where he originally belongs; as a starter in the NFL.

A five-star recruit out of Moreno Valley, California, he possesses all the intangibles to eventually become a factor on the Saints defense. He worked mostly on special teams as a rookie but look for more Powell to constitute a larger role in his second season with the Saints.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.