Maryland football in the NFL roundup: Room for Matt Furstenburg in Baltimore?

August 26, 2013

(2011 photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

As cut day approaches for NFL teams, the deadline for trimming rosters to 75 players on Tuesday at 4 p.m., here’s a roundup of the former Terrapins trying to make it.

>> The Baltimore Ravens recently cut tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, which might open the door for undrafted free agent Matt Furstenburg to make the roster. Projected starter Dennis Pitta dislocated and fractured his hip, and his availability this season remains in jeopardy.

“Matt’s done well,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “He’s in the hunt. He’ll get a chance Thursday night to make an even stronger case.”

Baltimore wraps up its preseason schedule against the St. Louis Rams at 8 p.m. Furstenburg has caught three passes for 47 yards over three preseason games this month, including a long haul of 24 yards. The Ravens recently inked veteran Dallas Clark to a deal as well, and reportedly “like the blocking of tight end Billy Bajema.”

Suffice to say, Furstenburg is squarely in the mix, and according to media reports impressed fellow former Maryland player Torrey Smith.

“He’s getting better and better,” Smith told reporters. “He’s getting more comfortable, and he’s not doing anything different than what I already knew he could do. Obviously that situation was tough quarterback-wise at Maryland last year, so not many people know what he can do, but he has great hands and he’s doing a great job.”

>> Joe Vellano received a surprise start for the New England Patriots in their third preseason game. Erik Frenz of Boston.com put together some screenshot analysis of Vellano’s night, which he categorizes as “up and down.”

Frenz predicts that Vellano, an undrafted free agent who reportedly played 23 snaps against the Detroit Lions, will make the practice squad. Colleague Zuri Berry, in his 53-man projection, left Vellano off the list.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston had some extended thoughts on Vellano’s outing:

Looking for signs of life from any of the Patriots’ reserve defensive tackles because of the team’s shortage of depth, I had a few thoughts on the 23 first-unit snaps played by rookie Joe Vellano, who started in place of Vince Wilfork. The highlight came on a second-and-goal rush early in the second quarter on which Matthew Stafford threw incomplete into the end zone, as Vellano (aligned as a 3-technique, outside shade on guard) showed nice initial quickness to beat veteran left guard Rob Sims on a one-on-one rush to the inside. He caught Sims lunging and made him pay. That’s one area in which Vellano has flashed at times in camp — first-step quickness as a rusher in tight spaces. But other times, Vellano’s relative lack of size (6-foot-2, 300 pounds) was evident against the Lions when he was more easily blocked in the running game (e.g. Montell Owens’ 6-yard run with 7:05 remaining in the quarter). The Patriots are thin at defensive tackle, and Vellano, at the least, looks like a strong practice-squad candidate.

>> Wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, the only Maryland player picked in the 2013 NFL draft, returned from a lengthy injury stint and played 24 snaps in his first preseason game in a blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He caught one pass for five yards.

“Dorsey didn’t get much of a chance in the passing game but his blocking stood out,” wrote Bob McGinn of the Journal-Sentinel. He kept going after people, one time flattening cornerback Jeremy Lane on a scramble by Vince Young. He also delivered a jarring stiff arm to former Packers cornerback Will Blackmon on his lone reception.”

>> The always-entertaining A.J. Francis apparently has endeared himself to Miami Dolphins fans, and rightfully so. The question, as with Furstenburg and Vellano, is whether the defensive lineman will hang onto the roster.

Miami lost 17-16 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend, and Francis was none too pleased with his production. (Neither was Sun-Sentinel beat writer Omar Kelly, who wrote, “Watching AJ Francis get moved easily by Tampa Bay’s starting O-line. Crush fades a little.”)

>> Former Maryland tight end Devonte Campbell was waived by the Atlanta Falcons this week. He was trying to make the roster as a fullback.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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