The Baltimore Football Club reduced its roster to 60 yesterday by cutting 18 players, including one who was with the team throughout its inaugural season.
Veteran defensive lineman Scott Miller, who appeared in all 21 games last year as Baltimore's long snapper, was released along with 17 rookies on the day the Canadian Football League required teams to pare rosters to 65 players.
"It's tough to let a guy go like that. Scotty did a lot of good things for us last year, and he's one of the hardest working guys we had," said assistant general manager Jim Popp.
"But we wanted to be fair to Scotty. Instead of having him here for another two weeks, we wanted to let him go and see if he can get a job somewhere else. I've been talking to Memphis about him already. And if things don't work out, we might be calling him again."
Miller's long-snapping job was in jeopardy as soon as rookie Robert Davis arrived in camp. Davis, a two-way lineman, has been moved to backup center, behind veteran Nick Subis.
"We feel like we found someone who is better at long snapping," Popp said. "As soon as Scott saw him [Davis], he knew."
Baltimore also cut nose tackles Casey Gamble and Pierre Wilson; rush end Les Barley; linebackers James Hester and Marlon Williams; defensive backs Donta Abron, Stan Callender and Damacio Green; offensive linemen Jon Kerr, Roosevelt Nivens and David Vertin; receivers John Javis, Jerry Ursin, David McLeod, Rameir Martin and Lance Yandell; and quarterback Matt Rodgers.
The release of Rodgers leaves Baltimore with four quarterbacks in camp, and strengthens the possibility that rookie Dan Crowley, the former Towson State star, will make the team as a backup to starter Tracy Ham. Veteran Shawn Jones and rookie Len Williams, chosen in April's Las Vegas dispersal draft, also are competing for backup jobs.
Baltimore will carry three quarterbacks.
"Matt was doing very well, but what he was battling more than anything is he's not going to play as the No. 3 quarterback," Popp said. "He was competing for the No. 2 job, and he wasn't winning that.
"Danny [Crowley] looks good. He's always complimented on his arm, but he's a good athlete. He's very heady. He needs to work on his timing, though. He still holds the ball too long sometimes. You never know what's going to happen when it's time to play."
Baltimore faces Ottawa in its exhibition opener in 12 days. Two days after the exhibition game, the team's roster must be reduced to 55.
NOTES: Coach Don Matthews gave the team off yesterday afternoon. . . . Offensive lineman Keith Ballard, who failed his physical and will likely be suspended by the team, has continued to work out on the side at Towson State. "It's disappointing to me. I've disappointed my coaches, my teammates and myself," said Ballard, who gained about 35 pounds after off-season leg and knee surgery. "But I'll be ready when it's money time. I'll be helping this team win a championship."