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TEAMS TRIM THEIR ROSTERS TO 53 PLAYERS

Kicker Cary Blanchard felt he took an unkind cut Sunday, the day NFL teams had to pare their rosters to 53 players.

Blanchard was let go by the New Orleans Saints despite making all of his tries inside the 50-yard line during the preseason. The kicker the Saints kept, Chip Lohmiller, had missed a 27-yarder, a 50-yarder and an extra point during the exhibition season."I didn't do anything to lose the job," said Blanchard, who was in the Saints camp in 1992 and kicked for the New York Jets in 1992-93.

"I'm upset. I wish I could come in and miss four field goals inside the 50 and still make the team."

One of the biggest names cut Sunday was quarterback Jim McMahon, released by the Cleveland Browns. But coach Bill Belichick said the veteran may be re-signed within days once he decides what to do with some injured players.

The well-traveled McMahon, 36, signed with the Browns in early August as insurance in case third-round draft pick Eric Zeier did not pan out. Zeier, however, had an excellent preseason and became No. 2 on the Browns depth chart behind Vinny Testaverde.

Marion Butts, a six-year veteran who rushed for 1,225 yards with San Diego in 1990, was among seven players cut by the San Francisco 49ers. Butts struggled during the preseason, gaining only 28 yards on 13 carries.

Also cut by San Francisco was defensive end Burt Grossman, who had hoped to make a mark as a pass rusher, but saw limited duty in exhibition games.

The Kansas City Chiefs released fullback James Saxon and placed safety Ronnie Lott on the injured reserve list.

Lott, a 10-time Pro Bowler in his 15th year, was signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason but fractured a fibula in a preseason game. By being placed on injured reserve, Lott can't play for the Chiefs this year. When he recovers, he can be waived and could sign with another team, the club said.

Signed as an unrestricted free agent, Saxon was with the Chiefs his first four years in the league and spent the last three years with Miami. He caught 27 passes for the Dolphins last year.

Final cuts for the Dallas Cowboys included four-year veteran Bucky Richardson, a former Oiler who had hoped to make the roster as a backup fullback and a special teams player.

The Washington Redskins' leading receivers in the preseason, Tyrone Rush and Olanda Truitt, were among those waived by the Redskins.

Rush was injured last preseason after being hit head-on, a collision that left him numb for 15 seconds. The second-year running back seemed assured of a place on this year's team, possibly at the expense of Reggie Brooks.

Rush had 270 multi-purpose yards in the first two preseason games but was hampered by a hamstring pull.

Third-year player Truitt caught 10 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns in exhibition games, but Washington coach Norv Turner decided to keep just four wideouts while keeping seven running backs.

The Buffalo Bills released quarterback Rick Strom, their No. 3 quarterback last year who was in a tight battle with Alex Van Pelt throughout training camp.

Strom completed 23 of 46 passes for 165 yards in four preseason games but did not move the offense as well as Van Pelt, who will back up Jim Kelly and rookie Todd Collins.

Denver wide receiver Darrick Owens was the MVP of the American Bowl in Tokyo, but didn't make the Broncos' roster. He caught five passes for 78 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown but had been hampered by injuries and was trying to break into a position where the Broncos are deep in talent.

The New England Patriots cut veteran defensive ends Mike Pitts and Jon Hand and one-time starting offensive guard Doug Skene.

The Patriots terminated the contracts of Pitts, a 10-year veteran who started every game last year at left defensive end, and Hand, in his 13th season, and waived Skene, a third-year player who started six games last year before a knee injury ended his season.