DENVER - Maurice Clarett never played in a preseason game for the Denver Broncos, but the team didn’t need to see any more of the rookie running back before deciding to cut him. Clarett was informed Sunday by coach Mike Shanahan that he will be among the team’s first round of cuts when they are announced this week, Clarett’s agent Steven Feldman said. The cuts have to be submitted to the league by Tuesday. Clarett, who was drafted with the last pick of the third round, will likely go down as one of the worst picks in team history. Shanahan wasn’t available for comment Sunday. Denver selected Clarett even though many teams were concerned with his off-field issues, his poor workout in February at the NFL scouting combine and his two-year absence from football. The Broncos didn’t have a strong need at running back with Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Quentin Griffin and Ron Dayne, but they gambled on what they thought was Clarett’s potential. “I think that he would be a top 10 or top 15 pick if he would’ve played his three or four years at Ohio State,” Shanahan said April 23 after drafting Clarett. “Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, but we are going to give him a chance. He either takes advantage of it or he doesn’t.” Clarett never budged past fifth on the depth chart. As a freshman, Clarett led the Buckeyes to the national title during the 2002 season. Then he was suspended by the school, and he later told ESPN that coaches arranged extra benefits illegal under NCAA rules. After he was suspended, Clarett sued the NFL, challenging the league’s rule that a player must be out of high school for three years before he is eligible for the draft. Clarett won a court case, but the NFL won an appeal, and Clarett was not eligible until this year’s draft. There’s no guarantee he’ll get picked up by another team right away after failing in Denver, where he alienated teammates with his reclusive attitude and turned off coaches with his unwillingness to practice because of a groin injury. “I guess we’ll find out,” Feldman said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” The only bright spot for the Broncos is Clarett bypassed a $410,000 signing bonus for an incentive-laden four-year deal in which he would make bonus money if he became the team’s leading rusher or gained more than 1,000 yards. Denver’s final cuts are Saturday. Clarett was on his best behavior at the combine and after the draft, talking about how much he looked forward to a fresh start. But once training camp started, he often refused interview requests. “Going through a transition like that (from one year in college to the pros) to come here and still be humble at the same time just makes you want to work a little harder to get further in life,” Clarett said after a minicamp practice in early July. “All the fun is in the hustle and struggle. I’m having fun out here just getting to compete.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT Preseason: Denver at Arizona, 8 p.m. Friday, CBS, 740 AM, 850 AM
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