Today all NFL teams had to get their training camp rosters down to 85 from the camp maximum of 90 players. The roster was already one player short because of placing kick returner Jakeem Grant Sr. on injured reserve on August 10 without any roster replacement.
The center position took two huge hits this week as starter Nick Harris went down on the second play of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night. Four days later, seventh-round draft pick Dawson Deaton suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the season.
Today, both players were added to IR which made for two fewer decisions for the coaching staff.
We have terminated the contract of DT Sheldon Day and waived OT Elijah Nkansah with an injury designation— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 16, 2022
The other three players cut were defensive tackle Sheldon Day, offensive tackle Elijah Nkansah and wide receiver Derrick Dillion.
Harris was the backup center last year and when Cleveland waived starter and eight-year veteran J.C. Tretter in March due to his pending $8.2 million contract, Harris was the next in line and worked hard in camp. His injury required the cart to take him off the field.
He had an MRI the next day and the decision was made to have season-ending knee surgery.
An MRI confirmed #Browns C Dawson Deaton suffered a torn ACL in practice today, sources say. After Cleveland lost starter Nick Harris the other day, another player at the position goes down. Ethan Pocic and Brock Hoffman still standing, though.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 16, 2022
Deaton was injured with a torn ACL on Monday during a practice session and was carted off the field. The same day he was ruled out for the season.
The biggest name to go is Day, who had a great second half of the season last year. He was expected to compete for either a starting position or in the rotation in the defensive tackle group which looks very thin and is full of very young players.
#Browns have terminated the contract of DT Sheldon Day and waived OT Elijah Nkansah with an injury designation— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 16, 2022
In the last five games of the 2022 season, Day had more playing time than either of the starters - Malik Jackson (41.6) and Malik McDowell (36.6) - plus Jordan Elliott (41.0) and Tommy Togiai (31.0). During this time, Day played on 45.6% of all defensive snaps and had 14 tackles, two batted passes, and half a sack. His PFF rating last year of 64.7 topped all defensive tackles on Cleveland’s roster. The next closest grade was from Andrew Billings at 47.5.
However, on July 26 Day was placed on the active/non-football injury list with a back injury and was never activated.
Day was the only seasoned veteran in the defensive tackle group and was expected to have a key role this year. He has ties to both defensive coordinator Joe Woods as well as defensive line coach Chris Kiffin going back to his playing days with the San Francisco 49ers, as both coaches were on that staff.
Nkansah found the Browns practice squad last year and then was signed to a reserve/futures deal in January. He was originally undrafted out of Toledo in 2018 and has played for six different NFL clubs.
Dillion was signed on August 1. An undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2020. Dillon spent portions of the 2020 and 2021 seasons on the practice squad of the New York Giants before playing this past spring with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL.
To get the roster back to 85 players, Cleveland signed former Washington State WR Easop Winston who had been cut by New Orleans earlier in the day. He is also a punt returner and was originally signed by the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 after going undrafted.
The next roster cutdown will take place on August 23 when teams must get down to a maximum of 80 players.