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Final Cuts Made To NFL Rosters

One of the things that hurt Dan Reeves in Denver and New York was trying to get involved in personnel decisions as well as coaching.

On Sunday, he released cornerback Michael Booker, his first-ever draft pick as the Atlanta Falcons' coach and general manager in 1997. Reeves had obtained the pick in a trade with Seattle, which used it to take another corner, Shawn Springs, who has made the Pro Bowl twice.

"Definitely, anybody is tough (to release) when you draft them," Reeves said. "When you get a high draft choice your expectations of them and their expectations of themselves are extremely high.

"When we made the deal for Ashley Ambrose, it made it extremely difficult from a salary cap standpoint for Michael unless he played extremely well."

Reeves blamed some of Booker's problems on injuries, but his fate was apparently sealed when he was beaten last week for a 68-yard touchdown by Jacksonville's Alvis Whitted.

Reeves also cut two of this year's picks, cornerback Anthony Midget, a fifth-rounder, and wide receiver Mareno Philyaw, taken in the seventh round. But they were low choices. Booker was taken with the 11th overall choice in 1997.

Another recent first-rounder, wide receiver Marcus Nash, was released after reaching an injury settlement with Baltimore. He broke his jaw early in training camp and never got much of a look.

Nash was Denver's first-round pick in 1998 after being one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets at Tennessee.

Overall, there were only a few surprises as all 31 NFL teams got down to the 53-player limit.

Kansas City axed 12-year veteran cornerback Cris Dishman, who was beaten out by Eric Warfield. But Dishman agreed to a contract with the Minnesota Vikings later Sunday.

Dishman started all 16 games last year in his only season with the Chiefs, making five interceptions and totaling 84 tackles. With the Houston Oilers, Washngton Redskins and Chiefs, he had 42 interceptions.

He was beaten out in training camp by Eric Warfield, a third-year cornerback from Nebraska.

"I think Cris has had a great career in the NFL, but we're going in another direction," coach Gunther Cunningham said. "The ball is in Eric Warfield's court and we'll see what he does with it."

The Falcons traded tight end O.J. Santiago, a key player on their NFC championship team two years ago, to Dallas for two draft picks.

Denver sent cornerback Chris Watson, who sparkled on returns as a rookie last year, to Buffalo for an undisclosed draft choice.

Cleveland placed tackle Orlando Brown on the physically unable to perform list. Brown has been unable to play since being hit in the right eye by a referee's penalty flag in December, and his career is in jeopardy.

Brown cannot practice or play for the first six weeks of the season. After that time, Brown could remain on the PUP list or be placed on the non-football injured reserve list.

Veteran quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, who started seven games last year for New Orleans, was let go by the Saints. That left Jake Delhomme and Aaron Brooks as the backups to Jeff Blake.

"It was not so much what Billy didn't do as what Jake and Aaron did do," coach Jim Haslett said. "They're young guys that you hate to let go. We think they're going to be pretty good players in the future."

Eight-year veteran Doug Pederson, who began last season as Philadelphia's starting quarterback, was released by the Eagles, leaving Koy Detmer as Donovan McNabb's backup. Pederson or Tolliver could be headed to Cleveland, where Tim Couch needs a veteran backup after a season-ending injury to his backup, Koy Detmer's brother Ty.

Former Notre Dame QB Ron Powlus made the Eagles as the third-stringer.

Seattle let go of veteran kicker Todd Peterson, who apparently was beaten out by Kris Heppner.

In some cases, the cuts reflected lost hopes or fond memories.

New England, desperately seeking a running game, released veteran back Raymont Harris, who sat out last season with a stress fracture in his left leg.

"I don't think it was so much about him (playing poorly) as the promise of younger players," coach Bill Belichick said, referring to Kevin Faulk and J.R. Redmond, the Patriots' only remaining runners. "It ends abruptly for a lot of these players."

The Patriots also placed offensive tackle Adrian Klemm, their first-round choice this year, on the physically unable to perform list, and kept four quarterbacks: Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz, Michael Bishop and rookie Tom Brady.

Carolina released 11-year veteran Anthony Johnson, who in 10 NFL seasons had 2,854 yards rushing, 1,120 of them in 1996, when he filled in for the injured Tshimanga Biakubutuka and helped lead the second-year Panthers to the NFC title game.

"That was probably particularly painful because he's meant an awful lot to the club over the years," coach George Seifert said.

Chicago released tight end Ryan Wetnight, a seven-year veteran who had 38 receptions last year. The Bears went with Alonzo Mayes, a fourth-round pick in 1998; John Allred, a second-round pick in 1997; and rookie Dustin Lyman, a third-round pick this year.

San Diego released Charlie Jones, the team's top receiver two years ago who suffered a dislocated hip last year and had only 10 catches for 90 yards and nine punt returns for 93 yards.

Tampa Bay hoped Jason Odom would be its starting left tackle, but he will miss the season after being placed on injured reserve with a back problem.

The ost bizarre episode on cutdown day came in Washington, where coach Norv Turner reluctantly released former Arena League running back Chad Dukes. He reclaimed him five hours later when he realized he had a roster spot because guard Tre Johnson was suspended for the opening game for running into an official.

"I told Chad when he left at about 10:30, I was going to do everything I could to get him back on the team," coach Norv Turner said. "I didn't know it was going to be at 3:30."

©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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