Three former Bulls had their NFL dreams dashed in the past three days, but one may have caught a lucky break.
Wide receiver Hugh Smith and cornerback Maurice Tucker got cut on Monday as teams had until today to trim their rosters to 65. Those two joined defensive tackle Tavares Jurineack, who was released by Miami on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Chad Pennington’s broken wrist might be just the opportunity former USF star Marquel Blackwell needs. New York’s signal caller went down with a broken left wrist in the third quarter Saturday when the Jets played the Giants.
The team cut nine players on Monday, and Blackwell wasn’t among them. However, New York signed quarterback Todd Husak Monday to join Blackwell, projected starter Vinny Testaverde and sixth-round pick Brooks Bollinger on the roster.
Early estimates have Pennington missing as many as 12 games. Testaverde is scheduled to start the Jets’ final preseason game Thursday vs. Philadelphia and play one series. Bollinger, who sprained a knee against the Giants, won’t play, leaving Blackwell and Husak to play the rest of the game.
Blackwell, who passed for more than 9,000 yards for the Bulls, didn’t appear in either of the Jets first two preseason games, but did make his debut by going 3-of-5 for 16 yards against New Orleans. It was an inauspicious debut as Blackwell was sacked and fumbled on his first play.
He rebounded to complete his only pass against the Giants for 27 yards.
Husak is starting his third stint with the Jets after the team cut him May 6 following mini-camp. In 2000, Husak appeared in his only NFL game and went 2-for-2 for the Redskins.
Tucker played in Cincinnati’s first preseason game against Blackwell’s Jets and registered one tackle and one assist but didn’t register a tackle in either of the next two games. In 2002, Tucker knocked down 15 passes for the Bulls, the third best single-season total in USF history.
Smith, who holds USF single-season and career records for receptions and yards, was in the running for Baltimore’s kick returning job.
With incumbent Lamont Brightful nursing a knee injury, Smith handled punt returns in the Ravens’ first two preseason contests. He had a fumble, which the team recovered, and averaged 1.8 yards on four attempts against the Falcons in the second game, which may have sealed his fate. Smith had five kickoff returns for a 22.4-yard average against Buffalo in the first game and a 6-yard punt return.
Smith didn’t appear in the Ravens’ most recent game.