SANTA CLARA -- NFL preseason games are weak overall, but the fourth game? It's the the runt of the litter, the one that Homer Zuckerman, axe in hand, ought to take behind the barn. A case in point: the Tolzien-Johnson Affair of 2012.
I've written about this before. You remember the “battle” between Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson, right?
In the summer of 2012, they were vying for the role of No. 3 quarterback. It was the only roster competition that remained and, judging from the rhetoric from the coaching staff, it was tight. Jim Harbaugh called it a "dead heat."
Luckily, there was the fourth preseason game to decide it. And the game certainly was decisive. Johnson looked like the second coming of Fran Tarkenton,finishing 9-14 for 125 yards and a 132.4 passer rating.
Tolzien, meanwhile, was a dud. He finished 3-8 for 42 yards, tossed an interception and came away with a passer rating, 15.6 rating, even Blaine Gabbert would find troubling.
And yet the next day it was Tolzien who was declared the winner and Johnson who was cut. What happened? The fourth preseason game, that's what. Yes, there are roster battles in the preseason, but 97.9 percent were decided prior to Tuesday's first round of cuts. The main thing that can determine a roster spot at this point is an injury, which is terrible but true and which is why many starters are likely to make only a cameo appearance, if any, in Houston today.
Having said all that, we still don't know exactly what those roster decisions are. And while many of the guys who play the bulk of today's game are destined to be cut, many will wind up on practice squads and some will be snapped up by other teams. With that in mind, the list of bubble players can be found below.
But first, here's a list of players who are eligible for the practice squad. Remember, though, to reach the practice squad, players first must pass through waivers, which allow every other team a chance to put these players on their 53-man roster.