What helped him make the roster ultimately spelled receiver Lance Long's demise.
Scout.com is reporting the Arizona Cardinals have released Long Monday. Long's journey has been one of surprises and more surprises.
This is just another step and another visit from the unexpected for the former Mississippi State product that recorded just one career collegiate touchdown--on a fumble recovery.
The road to the NFL hasn't been easy for Long and it never will be. He didn't start for his college team, wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school and had to earn his way onto the Cardinals' roster the last two years, playing on the practice squad last season before earning a place on the active roster this season.
The Cardinals suffered two key injuries to their receiving core this preseason when Anquan Boldin, Early Doucet and Steve Breaston had gone down and missed time. It was probably the best thing that has happened to Long. With Boldin and Breaston, two 1,000-yard receivers, taking less snaps, Long, all 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds of him, was given an opportunity to make an impression.
And he did exactly that. Long was one of the best route runners on the team, had arguably the best hands next to Larry Fitzgerald, and carried the confidence of a Pro-Bowler. He impressed the coaching staff and gave the Cardinals no choice but to add him to the active roster when the 2009 season began. The worst thing for Long? The worst thing was that the season began the way it did, a 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at home. The Cardinals didn't look like the Cardinals of old and Long dropped a pass. Arizona, upset and disappointed, had to make a move and it did. The Cardinals feel confident Doucet, Boldin and Breaston are ready to come back and play a major role again. And that leaves Long, the seventh receiver on the roster, as the odd man out.
He can still be re-signed by the team as a practice player, but for now his status with Arizona is up in the air. Over the preseason, he made a name for himself and caught the attention of several NFL teams which were interested if he was released by the Cardinals.
For Long, the numbers game and injuries served as both a benefit and a disadvantage. His story was an interesting one. Now as it takes another twist, it may just have to continue somewhere else.