By Joe Scalzo
After spending last fall out of the league, Jacksonville Jaguars center Dan Gerberry used one word to describe what it felt like to survive NFL cutdown day: overwhelming.
“Overwhelming is the best way to put it,” said Gerberry, a Fitch High graduate who failed to catch on with any team in 2012 after being released by the Lions in August. “I worked extremely hard over the last five years, since I got to Detroit [Lions], to get to this point.
“As of now, this is the best news I could ask for.”
The same is true of Broncos center Steve Vallos, a Boardman High graduate who didn’t sign with Denver until July 28. Vallos got a text Friday night saying he made the team, beating out veteran Ryan Lilja, who was lured out of retirement by Peyton Manning but was hampered by a knee injury. Vallos will back up starter Manny Ramirez.
“I wasn’t there in the offseason and I was a little behind but I picked it up quickly and felt like I made the most of the reps that I got,” said Vallos, who started last season with the Eagles and finished it with the Jaguars. “I’m just taking it week-by-week. It’s a hard business and this is the hardest day in that business.”
Gerberry signed with the Jaguars in May after attending an April minicamp as a tryout. He has yet to appear in an NFL game — he spent most of his three seasons with the Lions on their practice squad — and knew he was on the bubble with the Jaguars. His fiancee flew into Jacksonville on Saturday, either to spend the weekend celebrating with him or driving back home to Youngstown.
“I was happy with how I played but there are a lot of good football players that don’t make rosters,” he said. “I don’t think people understand that.”
Teams typically make several moves after cutdown day, so Gerberry and Vallos know their roster spots aren’t guaranteed. Vallos actually survived the last cut with the Seahawks in 2010, only to be released. He was picked up by the Browns two days later.
“You’ve got to enjoy the moment as much as you can,” said Vallos, a seventh-round pick by Seattle in 2007. “You can’t live on the edge all the time or you’ll drive yourself crazy.”
Tampa Bay cut safety Sean Baker (Canfield) for the second straight year. Baker ended up on the Bucs’ practice squad for the last five games of 2012. When asked if he’s headed back to the practice squad, Baker texted, “I wish I knew. I haven’t heard anything.”
The Browns cut RB Jamaine Cook (YSU) just two weeks after he re-signed with the team. In a text, Cook said he’ll find out today if he made the practice squad. Cook originally signed with the Browns in April as an undrafted free agent, then was released in May.
Cook is one of two former Penguins who were cut, joining Oakland Raiders guard Lamar Mady, who also signed as an undrafted free agent in April.
The Bengals cut RB Dan Herron (Warren Harding), who is also a practice squad candidate. A sixth-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2012, Herron spent most of last season on the practice squad before being activated for the final three games.
Other area players on active rosters as of Saturday night are: Ravens LB John Simon (Mooney), Browns OL John Greco (Boardman), Browns DL Ishmaa’ily Kitchen (Mooney), Broncos DL Derek Wolfe (Beaver Local), Colts OL Mike McGlynn (Fitch), Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (Mount Union), Eagles CB Bradley Fletcher (Liberty), Raiders DB Brandian Ross (YSU) and Redskins WR Pierre Garcon (Mount Union).
Bills WR Brad Smith (Chaney) was placed on injured reserve Friday with a rib injury and 49ers WR Mario Manningham (Warren Harding) was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list earlier this week.
Two other players with area ties were cut earlier this month.
Cardinal Mooney High graduate Michael Zordich, a fullback who signed with the Panthers after going undrafted in April, tore his ACL in Carolina’s first preseason game and was placed on waivers.
And ex-YSU tight end Will Shaw was released by the Eagles in the first wave of NFL cuts on Aug. 25. Shaw originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in April and was released in May. He then signed with the Eagles.