Tough Week for NFL Hopefuls

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If you're a UConn supporter, there's plenty of reason for optimism this time of year. We had to wait two days, but the Huskies rolled Fordham in the football season opener Saturday. The men's team landed the biggest recruit in the country for this season, and added bonus: Jim Calhoun announced that he would be coaching. The women's team, fresh off a 10-day trip to Italy, heads into the season from their familiar perch as one of the best outfits anywhere. And then there are the alumni, most notably Maya Moore and Kemba Walker, who have taken their games to the pros and are (or -- fingers crossed -- soon will be) doing very well.

But the UConn-related news hasn't all been hunky dory, even if it seems that way. Last week, NFL teams began the difficult process of paring their rosters from 90 to 53. The final cuts were made Saturday and, well, it turned out to be a rough weekend for a lot of former Huskies trying to make their living in the NFL.

First, the good news: fullback Anthony Sherman and 2010 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, running back Jordan Todman, survived training camp, preseason and most importantly, final cuts and are members of the Cardinals and Chargers, respectively. The other two UConn players drafted in April -- Lawrence Wilson (Panthers, 6th round) and Greg Lloyd Jr. (Eagles, 7th round) -- met different fates. Both were released, but there's a silver lining: both now reside on their respective teams' practice squads.

Linebacker Scott Lutrus and offensive tackle Zach Hurd were signed as undrafted free agents in late July and both were released in recent days (by the Jaguars and Seahawks, respectively). Lutrus landed on the Rams' practice squad while Hurd has had workouts with the Bengals and Browns.

As for Jordan, whose NFL career got off to a rocky start when he was drafted in the sixth rounds (some four rounds later than he expected), the Chargers coaches appear to like him, and as he gains experience, he'll be counted on to replace some of the productivity Darren Sproles took with him to New Orleans. Luckily, San Diego has a high-powered offense, led by Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, so Todman has time to learn by watching.

Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert are ahead of him on the depth chart, so for now Todman will be asked to contribute on special teams, and occasionally see the field as a third-down back. It's the ideal situation for him to ease into his role.

The fun starts Sunday, September 11, when the Chargers host the Vikings.

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