With cuts looming, Jaron Brown, Rashard Hall, Phillip Merling pushing for NFL spots

Clemson free agents have impressed so far; first NFL roster cuts set for August 27

A pass by Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (4) is blocked by Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Merling (93) as Merling and Chris Baker (92) pressure Fitzpatrick in the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

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A pass by Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (4) is blocked by Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Merling (93) as Merling and Chris Baker (92) pressure Fitzpatrick in the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Free-agent hopefuls Jaron Brown, Rashard Hall and Phillip Merling have all made a strong push toward earning spots on their NFL teams rosters, as the first wave of cuts looms.

NFL teams must trim their rosters from 90 to 75 by August 27, and four days later must reach the regular-season limit of 53. On Sept. 1, teams will be able to sign eight additional players to their practice squads.

Brown, a rookie wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals, made an early splash when he led the team in receptions in its preseason opener against Green Bay.

Brown came back in his next game, against the Dallas Cowboys, and caught both passes for which he was the target, one for 23 yards and another for five yards.

He also showed his value on special teams with a tackle and a fumble recovery.

In two games, Brown has seven receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Hall, a rookie safety with the St. Louis Rams, had a big game in his team's loss to Green Bay last week.

Hall had three solo tackles, a pass-defended and a forced fumble, and also made two tackles on special teams. He now has three special teams tackles in two games.

Merling, who was picked up in the off-season by the Washington Redskins after being released by the Packers last year, has returned to the form that made him the No. 1 selection of the second round of the 2008 NFL draft.

From his defensive end spot, Merling has recorded five tackles 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and two passes-defended in two games.

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