METAIRIE, La. -- It's cut day in the NFL and no matter which side you're on, it's difficult. Coaches, players, front offices, scouting departments, they all circle this day on their calendars, they all know it's meaning.
By 3 p.m., the league's 32 teams must reduce their rosters to 53 men. The New Orleans Saints have already begun this process, releasing fullback Greg Jones late Friday, according to a source.
Now, the team must part ways with 21 more. It's a rough day for Saints coach Sean Payton, who characterized it as 'different.'
'It's a difficult part of the training camp process because these are guys that you've built relationships with and worked with,' he said. 'As coaches, you get attached and you want to see them do well.'
For young players, especially those on the bubble, there's nothing to do but wait while remaining confident and hopeful that they've shown the coaches enough to warrant one of the precious few roster spots, said veteran cornerback Champ Bailey.
'It's really nothing you can do at this point,' Bailey said Friday. 'The work is done. It's not in their hands. They just have to feel good about what they've done.
'If you've done enough and you've got good tape, other teams will see that. This is a 32-team league. Guys are auditioning every time they go out there. Hopefully they put everything they had out there that they feel good with, that's really what's going to make them a player in this league.'
Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler and sure-fire Hall of Famer, is likely safe from the dreaded shoulder tap followed by a front-office person saying, 'Follow me, and, oh yeah, grab your playbook.'
Under the Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis regime, the Saints have become notorious for discovering talent among the pool of undrafted free agents.
Last season, six undrafted rookies Tim Lelito, Khiry Robinson, Josh Hill, Rod Sweeting, Glenn Foster and Kevin Reddick -- made the initial 53-man roster, with a seventh, quarterback Ryan Griffin, joining that group mid-season after St. Louis tried to sign him off the practice squad.
This year, 10 survived Tuesday's cut to 75: linebackers Kasim Edebali and Todd Davis; safety Pierre Warren; wide receivers Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones; center Matt Armstrong; cornerback Brian Dixon; tight end Nic Jacobs; running back Derrick Strozier; and defensive lineman Lawrence Virgil.
Of all the Saints' free-agent finds over the years, two, however, stand out above the rest: running back Pierre Thomas and linebacker Junior Galette (2010).
In 2007, the Saints chose to retain the highly-motivated and versatile Thomas over fourth-round draft pick Antonio Pittman. Then, just three years later, the team held on to Galette, a fiery linebacker from Stillman College who had outplayed several veterans during his first camp.
Young players are well aware of the Saints' penchant for keeping undrafted players. It's what made signing with the team appealing for so many.
But now, all they can do is wait.
'It's a little nerve-wracking,' Edebali said. 'But I've talked to the veterans and even they've said you can't get too nervous, decisions have been made and you just have to wait until you hear about it.'
An ex-Boston College linebacker who hails from Germany, the high-energy Edebali believes he can be an asset to the Saints, especially on special teams. He won't, however, allow himself to think too far ahead, despite both coaches and players singing his praises for the last few weeks.
'I just live in the moment right now and I do day-by-day and don't really try to think too far ahead and that's really what's going on right now,' he said. 'I'm just waiting to hear the decision and then on to the next day.'