Middle linebacker Tyrus McCloud, expected to again fill the backup role behind Baltimore Ravens all-pro Ray Lewis, today found himself out of a job.
McCloud was one of 12 players released by the Ravens, who pared their roster to the NFL-mandated 53.
Although there were strong indications Saturday about who would be cut when 10 players--including place kicker Scott Bentley, running back Eric Metcalf, wide receiver Floyd Turner and former Howard defensive line standout Marques Douglas--failed to show up for practice, McCloud participated in the workout and was still listed as a second-stringer as of Thursday.
In the end, however, his apparent lack of versatility cost him, as the team chose instead to keep Brad Jackson, who spent most of last season on the Ravens' practice squad and has never played an NFL down, and third-year pro Tyrell Peters.
"The two of them had versatility, where Tyrus was basically just a backup to Ray Lewis," said vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome. "That was the only spot he could play, so we decided to go with the better athlete with more speed."
The team seemed high on McCloud after drafting him out of Louisville in the fourth round in 1997. After playing sparingly his rookie season, he took on a larger role last year when Lewis dislocated his left elbow in September and missed nearly three games.
He replaced Lewis in the first quarter against Jacksonville, and appeared to open some eyes by recording a career-high 10 tackles in relief. He then continued to play well in starts the next two games.
Newsome said McCloud's release, as well as those of several other experienced veterans, is a sign of how far the team has progressed since relocating from Cleveland following the 1995 season.
"Our second and third years, we were keeping guys who basically should've been on the developmental squad in the top 53," Newsome said. "But this time we knew we were letting some players go who probably were going to be hitching on with other teams."
The release of Jeff Kopp, a fifth-year backup linebacker, was less of a surprise. Throughout training camp, the team had been grooming him to be the backup long snapper behind Frank Wainright. Now the job will fall to second-year pro Mike Flynn, though Newsome said Flynn would be used in that role only in an emergency situation.
Other players released included defensive backs Corey Chamblin and John Williams, defensive lineman Larry Fitzpatrick and offensive linemen Chris Harrison, Bob Sapp and Sammy Williams.
Teams have until 4 p.m. Monday to claim players off waivers. Baltimore then will announce its five-player practice squad, which is expected to include Douglas.