Though the deadline for the first roster cuts is not until August 31st, the Broncos started trimming their roster a week early on Monday when the team announced they waived running back Toney Baker, offensive lineman Kirk Barton and wide receiver Patrick Carter.
Baker joined the team as a college free agent after the draft in April, and saw his chances for carries disappear after the team signed free agent running backs Justin Fargas and LenDale White in August. Barton joined the team on July 7th after being waived by the Detroit Lions, and Patrick Carter joined the team on August 5th, but with a long list of wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, never really had a chance to earn a roster spot.
On Tuesday, Josina Anderson of Fox31 reported the Broncos had released veteran linebacker Akin Ayodele, who signed with the team as a free agent in March. Ayodele was drafted by the Jaguars in 2002 and also played for the Dallas Cowboys and most recently the Miami Dolphins. Ayodele started both preseason games at inside linebacker against the Bengals and Lions, racking up 8 tackles. The release of Ayodele was followed by the news of the release of offensive lineman and former Colorado Buff Tyler Polumbus, who replaced Ryan Harris last year as the starting right tackle, but clearly struggled. Polumbus was signed in 2008 by Mike Shanahan, and was a better fit for the zone blocking scheme. Polumbus will likely draw some interest from Shanahan's Redskins, but other zone blocking teams such as Houston and Seattle could be a good fit too.
Though some might wonder why the team would release players now while the deadline to bring the roster back to 75 players is not until next week, coach McDaniels has said before that if the team has already made a decision about the player's future, they want to give him a chance to catch on with another team.
The best news on Tuesday came from Josh McDaniels' press conference, where he announced several injured players were scheduled to return to practice this week. Champ Bailey, D.J. Williams, Demaryius Thomas, Chris Kuper and Correll Buckhalter returned to practice on Tuesday, while Ryan Clady and LenDale White will join their team mates on the field again on Wednesday. Though some of those players might not get playing time in the two preseason games that remain, it is a good sign that they are back on the field for practice instead of rehabbing from their injury.
The team also announced they were awarded Colorado native Kory Sperry, a second year tight end who was waived by the Miami Dolphins and came into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers in 2009. Sperry will be able to help out Marquez Branson at tight end while starter Daniel Graham and backup Richard Quinn remain sidelined with an injury.