Former BYU wide receiver Mitch Mathews became a victim of the race for an NFL roster spot, as he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs Tuesday.
The news came out Tuesday morning, as the 2 p.m. MDT deadline loomed for NFL teams to cut their rosters to 75 players. During the first round of cuts, nine players with Utah ties were released by their respective teams. That included five being waived on Tuesday and leaving the number of Utah ties on NFL rosters on or injured reserve at 62.
Mathews, a signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent after not being selected in this year's NFL draft.
In three preseason games, Mathews did not record any receptions or targets. He played a total of 14 offensive snaps and nine on special teams, but didn’t log an offensive snap in the Chiefs’ second preseason game against Los Angeles and just three in the team’s most recent game, a victory over Chicago.
BYUtv sideline reporter Jason Shepherd said the Chiefs have interest in adding Mathews to their practice squad, if he's not snatched up by another team.
The Chiefs told former Cougar Mitch Mathews they'd like to have him join the practice squad as long as another team doesn't sign him. #BYUSN— Jason Shepherd (@jsnshep) August 30, 2016
In other local news, former Timpanogos and Utah pass rusher Paul Kruger found himself among the notable cuts Monday morning, when the Cleveland Browns terminated the contract of the veteran outside linebacker.
Kruger had played for the Browns the past three seasons, starting all but two games during that span. After a 2014 season in which he had a career-high 11 sacks and four forced fumbles, though, Kruger's sack total dropped to 2.5 sacks last season.
He also saw his tackles number drop nearly in half, from 53 to 27.
Kruger responded to his release on Twitter, thanking the Browns organization for his time there.
Kruger played his first four NFL seasons with Baltimore, winning a Super Bowl title with the Ravens. He had a breakout year in 2012 — with 42 tackles, nine sacks and six pass deflections, which helped him land a big contract with Cleveland.
There is one more major round of cuts coming, as NFL rosters have to be cut down to 53 players by Saturday. The league's final preseason games will all be played by Thursday.
Here's a look at other locals who have been cut as teams trim their rosters to 75:
Sione Houma (Highland High), FB: The New Orleans Saints waived Houma Tuesday. The undrafted free agent had an 8-yard reception for the Saints in their preseason opener against New England. But he played just 14 offensive snaps in two preseason games and didn’t play in the team’s loss to Pittsburgh last week. His chances of making the team were hurt when New Orleans brought in veteran fullback John Kuhn, a longtime Packer.
Jason Fanaika (Utah and Pleasant Grove High), LB: Fanaika was waived by the San Francisco 49ers Tuesday. Fanaika, a rookie, joined the team as an undrafted free agent this offseason and was one of the 49ers' final two moves to make the 75-man limit. During three preseason games, Fanaika played 45 defensive snaps and had three tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry, including a six-yard sack against a fellow rookie, Denver quarterback Paxton Lynch, the Broncos' first-round draft pick.
Brad Sorensen (Southern Utah), QB: Sorensen was waived by the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday. He signed with the team on Aug. 20 but did not play in the Vikings’ preseason victory over San Diego Sunday. Sorensen has previously been on the practice squad with the Chargers, who drafted him in 2013, and Tennessee.
Stephen Paea (Timpview High), DE: The Washington Redskins waived Paea Tuesday, one year after the veteran signed a free-agent deal with the team. In his only season with Washington, Paea played in 11 games, with one start, and had 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks before going on injured reserve with a turf toe injury. Paea played his first four NFL seasons in Chicago and had three tackles and a sack on 53 defensive snaps in preseason play for Washngton while coming off the bench as a reserve.
David Moala (Utah State), NT: The Denver Broncos Moala waived Moala Monday. The undrafted free-agent rookie played in three preseason games for the Broncos, registering two solo tackles against San Francisco and a pass deflection against Los Angeles. He played 28 total defensive snaps.
Chuck Jacobs (Utah State), WR: The Baltimore Ravens waived Jacobs Monday. He had re-signed with the team Aug. 2 after a series of injuries left the Ravens shorthanded at the wide receiver position. In three preseason games, Jacobs was targeted twice but had no catches and played 43 offensive snaps.
Jordan Leslie (BYU), WR: The Atlanta Falcons waived Leslie Saturday, as the team was one of the first to make cuts ahead of Tuesday's deadline. Leslie had three catches for 48 yards in preseason play. Leslie played a total of 64 offensive snaps during the preseason, including 31 snaps against the Browns, a high among Falcons wide receivers that game.
Former BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi was placed on injured reserve by the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday. The rookie who was a third-round draft pick broke his ankle during practice on Aug. 4.
Second-year pro and former Utah State linebacker Zach Vigil was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list by the Miami Dolphins Tuesday. By being placed on the reserve list, Vigil is eligible to be activated after six weeks.
Former Utah and Copper Hills High defensive tackle Sealver Siliga was placed on injured reserve by the Seattle Seahawks Monday. Siliga signed a one-year deal with Seattle this offseason and was dealing with a calf injury that, according to The Seattle Times, occured when he was training this offseason. Siliga had spent the previous three seasons with New England, winning a Super Bowl title with the Patriots.
Under NFL rules, Siliga could return this season, as teams can bring back one player off the injured reserve list after eight games.
After Tuesday's cuts, former BYU fullback Paul Lasike is the lone fullback remaining on the Chicago Bears roster. He is heading into his second season with the Bears after spending last year on the practice squad.
Former Utah quarterback Kendal Thompson, who converted to wide receiver for the pros, remained on the Washington Redskins roster. He signed with the team in late July and caught the game-winning touchdown for Washington in its preseason victory over the New York Jets.
Former Utah State safety Marwin Evans, an undrafted free agent who signed with Green Bay, stuck around with the Packers and has impressed in preseason play. In Green Bay's second preseason game, a victory over Oakland, Evans led the team with five tackles. Then last week, he had two tackles, an interception and a pass deflection against San Francisco. Evans has gotten extensive work in the preseason, playing 89 defensive snaps.
Including Thompson and Evans, there are currently five local rookie undrafted free agents still on NFL rosters. They include former Southern Utah defensive end/outside linebacker James Cowser (Oakland), former Utah linebacker Jared Norris (Carolina) and former Weber State cornerback Devonte Johnson (Atlanta).
Local players on NFL rosters
Here's a look at the full list of 62 players with Utah ties on NFL rosters or on injured reserve following Tuesday's deadline.
John Denney, LS, BYU
Koa Misi, LB, Utah
Zach Vigil, LB, Utah State and Clearfield High (on reserve/non-football injury list)
Trevor Reilly, LB, Utah
Will Davis, SS, Utah State
Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU and Timpview High (on injured reserve)
Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU
Steve Smith Sr., WR, Utah
Eric Weddle, FS, Utah
De’Ondre Wesley, OT, BYU
Kaelin Clay, WR, Utah (on injured reserve)
Nick Vigil, ILB, Utah State and Fremont High
Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah and Highland High
Tony Bergstrom, C, Utah and Skyline High
Anthony Denham, TE, Utah
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, Timpview High
Tay Glover-Wright, CB, Utah State
Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
Brice McCain, CB, Utah
Jeremiah Poutasi, G/T, Utah
LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah
Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
Kansas City Chiefs
Jordan Devey, OL, American Fork High and Snow College
Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Daniel Sorensen, DB, BYU
James Cowser, LB/DE, Southern Utah and Davis High
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Donald Penn, T, Utah State
Sean Smith, CB, Utah
San Diego Chargers
Tenny Palepoi, DT, Utah and Skyline High
Uani ‘Unga, MLB, BYU (on injured reserve)
Eric Rowe, CB, Utah
Stephen Paea, DT, Timpview High
Kendal Thompson, WR, Utah
Paul Lasike, RB/FB, BYU
Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State and Weber High
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Miles Killebrew, SS, Southern Utah
Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State
Haloti Ngata, DT, Highland High
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Green Bay Packers
Robertson Daniel, CB, BYU
Marwin Evans, S, Utah State
Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State
Matt Asiata, RB, Utah and Hunter High
Devonte Johnson, CB, Weber State
Derrick Shelby, DE, Utah
D.J. Tialavea, TE, Utah State and West Jordan High
Brian Blechen, LB, Utah
Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State and Jordan High
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah and Bingham High
Jared Norris, LB, Utah
Paul Soliai, DT, Utah
Alani Fua, ILB, BYU
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State
Los Angeles Rams
Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State
San Francisco 49ers
Dres Anderson, WR, Utah
Zane Beadles, OL, Utah and Hillcrest High
Jake Heaps, QB, BYU
Sealver Siliga, DT, Utah and Copper Hills High (on injured reserve)
Will Tukuafu, FB, East High
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @brandonljudd