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O’Donnell among NFL cuts

Fuamatu-Ma’afala is let go by Steelers

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Neil O'Donnell, Frank Winters and Robert Edwards were among the NFL veterans cut Sunday as teams trimmed rosters to the season-limit of 53.

The release of O'Donnell by Tennessee was a surprise because it left the Titans without a veteran backup to quarterback Steve McNair. But the Titans needed the salary cap space because of shortages they must fill at other positions.

"We're scratching and clawing for every dime," coach Jeff Fisher said. "When you've got two players that are similar in ability, you typically have to go with the younger player."

That younger player is untested Billy Volek, who had a strong preseason.

Oddly, the Titans released O'Donnell in February to get under the salary cap. After the 13-year veteran visited Minnesota, New Orleans and Miami, Tennessee re-signed O'Donnell in late June.

Winters, who was entering his 17th NFL season, joined the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 1992 and ranked fifth among active NFL players in games played, 231. He played in all 16 games at center in 2002 after injury forced out Mike Flanagan.

Edwards made a remarkable comeback from a severe knee injury to play for Miami last season. He was second in Comeback Player of the Year voting behind Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox.

"We gave him a shot and he did his part and helped us win games," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said.

Edwards' career was in serious jeopardy after he shredded his left knee in a beach football game at the 1999 Pro Bowl. A former first-round draft choice by New England, Edwards rushed 20 times for 107 yards and had 18 receptions and scored two touchdowns in 2002.

The Dolphins also put wide receiver Oronde Gadsden on injured reserve and released seven-year veteran receiver Dedric Ward.

Buffalo released defensive end Marcus Jones, a six-year veteran attempting to make a comeback after missing last season with a knee injury.

Detroit released guard Tony Semple, a fifth-round draft pick in 1994 who had the most seniority on the Lions' offense.


Placekicker Mike Hollis and long snapper Ryan Kuehl were placed on injured reserve by the Giants, whose special teams woes continued.

Running back Ki-Jana Carter and tight end David Sloan were veterans among 17 players cut by New Orleans. Carter was the top overall pick in the 1995 draft by Cincinnati, but has been plagued by injuries. Sloan started 12 games for the Saints last year, catching 12 passes for 127 yards. In the past eight months, he had surgery on his left toe, left knee and right shoulder.

Rickey Dudley, a key component in coach Jon Gruden's multiple tight end sets last season, reached an injury settlement with Tampa Bay. He suffered a high left ankle sprain in the final preseason game and would have been sidelined for six to 10 weeks.

Troy Edwards, a 1999 first-round pick of the Steelers, was cut by the Rams. He caught 18 passes for 157 yards for St. Louis last season, but fell behind rookies Kevin Curtis, Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey in training camp.

Jim Flanigan, a 10-year veteran defensive lineman who has played for Chicago and Green Bay, was released by San Francisco. He missed most of training camp with a back injury that also affected his legs.

Bengals first-year coach Marvin Lewis broke with the team's tradition and got rid of some high draft picks: safety Lamont Thompson, taken in the second round last year, and tight end Sean Brewer, a third-round pick in 2001.

He also released former first-round pick Reinard Wilson and linebacker Steve Foley, who started 44 games from 1999-2001, but missed last season with a dislocated shoulder.

Wilson was the 14th overall pick in 1997, but had only one strong season with Cincinnati.

Ex-Ute running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, once a valuable backup to Jerome Bettis, was cut by Pittsburgh.

"It's been very tough because he's been an integral part of this team," coach Bill Cowher said. "If you look at where we are with Amos (Zereoue) and Jerome and with the emergence of Verron Haynes, it's hard to see, at this point, where he fits on the field."