FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - Brandon Meriweather, Tommie Harris and Larry Johnson are former Pro Bowl players now looking for jobs.
The three were among hundreds of players cut Saturday as NFL teams got down to the mandatory 53-man roster maximum just five days before New Orleans and Green Bay kick off the regular season.
Cancer survivor Mark Herzlich made the New York Giants’ roster after being signed as a free agent out of Boston College. The linebacker, who beat a rare form of bone cancer in college, was on the bubble _ and still may be as teams search the waiver wire _ but he’s on the Giants’ roster for now.
“Herzlich didn’t bat an eye the whole camp,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “Physically, he did everything you asked and more. I saw him improve literally week by week.”
Meriweather was a first-round pick of New England who has played in 64 games over four seasons. He has 12 interceptions, including a career-high five in 2008 when he earned the first of two straight Pro Bowl selections. Also among the Patriots’ cuts were running back Sammy Morris, a 12-year veteran, and wide receiver Brandon Tate.
Harris, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, was hoping to revive his career in Indianapolis, but was among 27 waived by the Colts. He was a key cog in Chicago’s Super Bowl run during the 2006 season, but was hindered by injuries the past three seasons and released by the Bears in February before the lockout.
Four other veteran free agents signed by Indianapolis _ defensive linemen Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Braxton, quarterback Kerry Collins and linebacker Ernie Sims _ all made the roster.
Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowl running back, was among those released by Miami. The Dolphins signed him last week after he sat out most of last season when his career was derailed by injuries and a series of off-the-field missteps. Miami also terminated the contracts of cornerback Will Allen, a veteran who missed all of last season with a knee injury, and fullback Lousaka Polite, who started 24 games over the past three seasons.
Among the Giants’ cuts was Matt Dodge, giving veteran Steve Weatherford the job at punter. New York also placed Sage Rosenfels, last year’s backup quarterback, on injured reserve, giving the job to David Carr, who was Eli Manning’s backup in 2008-09.
Chicago let go of running back Chester Taylor and tight end Desmond Clark. Taylor appeared to be on the way out for a while, hinting he was finished in Chicago early in the week. He didn’t play in the third preseason game at Tennessee and left team headquarters thinking he had been released after a meeting with coach Lovie Smith on Monday. He was back practicing the next day and started the exhibition finale against Cleveland on Thursday, struggling for 27 yards on 10 attempts.
The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers released 23 players, including third-string quarterback Graham Harrell, and traded fullback Quinn Johnson to Tennessee and rookie guard Caleb Schlauderaff, a sixth-round pick, to the New York Jets _ both for undisclosed draft picks.
The Titans acquired Johnson after fullback Ahmard Hall was suspended by the NFL for four games for using performance-enhancing substances. Among Tennessee’s cuts was wide receiver Justin Gage.
The Jets also traded defensive back Dwight Lowery to Jacksonville for an undisclosed pick. He spent three seasons with the Jets, filling in at cornerback and safety, after being drafted in the fourth round out of San Jose State.
New York kept Aaron Maybin, the former Buffalo first-round pick who was released by the Bills after two unproductive seasons. The former No. 11 pick by the Bills in 2009 is hoping to jump-start his career as a pass-rushing presence with the Jets despite having no sacks in two seasons in Buffalo.
“He’s one of those guys we had talked about where we probably had three spots open,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said, “and I thought his play rushing the passer, that’s what landed him on the roster.”