During the NFL calendar, there is no crueler time than the day after the final preseason game, when rosters need to be paired down to 53 players. It is a time when dreams are crushed and for many players, the realization hits that their NFL sized dreams will never become a reality.
On Friday, the Jets went through two waves of cuts, cutting 15 players including one draft pick and several players who were on the team’s roster last season, early in the day and a final seven players before the 9 p.m. deadline. Some will return to be a part of the practice squad.
Entering his fourth year in the league, Patrick Turner originally made the Dolphins roster in 2009, but the next year was cut after the fourth preseason game. Despite being a draft pick of the organization a season before, he knew that he might be getting jettisoned in 2010.
“You just try not to get too high or too low on yourself. You have to be even keel. You’re not sure what is going to happen. It’s so stressful and everything happens for a reason; life always has a plan for you,” Turner told Metro. “I knew there was a chance I’d be cut that second year. My rookie year, I didn’t think so, because I had a good camp. But that second year I sort of expected it. I almost did kind of know that it was going to happen. It wasn’t really a surprise or anything.”
Turner remembers doing the math and looking at the roster and he realized that he might be the odd man out in Miami. What Turner went through two years ago with the Dolphins, Paul Cornick went through with the Jets on Friday.
An undrafted rookie free agent out of North Dakota State, the mellow tackle made it through Friday morning’s first round of cuts. As he sat at the temporary locker the Jets give to rookies, he was scrolling through his phone, which was filled with text messages of people wondering his status with the team.
“Every time you get tapped [or] someone calls you, you wonder if they’re coming for you. It’s not something that someone can prepare you for,” Cornick told Metro Friday afternoon. “Everyone says it happens, the work that is put in, you have to rest in that. It’s out there what you did in practice and games; you can’t do anything about it.”
“So far, being here so far, right now is a good sign.”
On Friday evening, Cornick was asked to turn in his playbook and was cut from the team.
Linebacker Josh Mauga was fairly certain he'd make the Jets this fall, but he has been cut three times as he enters his third season in the NFL. Just one of those cuts came on the roster cut down day. He was a rookie in 2010 and, like Turner in Miami, sensed what was coming.
“I had a feeling I was going to get cut from the get-go. I had a concussion during camp and I knew that no player makes the roster without playing in a preseason game,” Mauga said. “So I sort of knew.”
He went in for his treatments as normal and tried to not dwell on the conversation he knew was likely coming. There was a slight sense of relief from Mauga when he was told to gather up his team-related items and head up to general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s office.
“Bring everything that you have” is what Mauga was told, a grim reminder about how serious life in the NFL is. Weeks later, when he was fully recovered from his concussion, he was brought back to the Jets as part of the practice squad.
His first call after being cut as a rookie was to the woman who would become his wife. The conversation helping to soften the blow.
“It helped; she’s been there through it all with me,” Mauga said. “Having her there helped through what could have been -- and was -- a very difficult time. Even if you expect to get cut, it still isn’t easy to go through.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.