JACKSONVILLE – The toughest day of the NFL calendar came Friday for the Jaguars.
And two of the decisions involved quarterback.
Mike Kafka and Matt Scott, a pair of reserve quarterbacks with the team throughout 2013 training camp and preseason, were among 21 players released on Friday as the team reduced its roster to 54 players. The league requires teams' rosters be at 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Jaguars will receive a roster exemption on Saturday for wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who is serving a four-game suspension to start the regular season.
The released players on Friday included 12 veterans, two first-year players and seven rookies.
"It's always tough to let go of men that have played such an important role in what we are building here," Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get the 2013 regular season underway and we will continue to compete on a daily basis to build the best roster possible."
The veterans released were wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, defensive end Pannel Egboh, Kafka, running back Jonathan Grimes, linebacker Brandon Marshall, wide receiver Charly Martin, offensive tackle Pat McQuistan, guard Drew Nowak, cornerback Kevin Rutland, defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith, linebacker Julian Stanford and cornerback Marcus Trufant.
The first-year players released were wide receiver Toney Clemons and defensive end Ryan Davis.
The rookies released were defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, offensive tackle R.J. Dill, tight end Ryan Otten, wide receiver Tobais Palmer, Scott, safety Steven Terrell and linebacker Mike Zimmer.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley earlier on Friday reiterated what he has said several times in recent days, that releasing players who have been with the organization throughout the offseason makes for a difficult day.
"The players have played a vital role in the process," Bradley said. "We appreciate everything they've done. It's just not easy. I'm rooting for all of them to catch on to a team. A lot of them will be picked up, I imagine, after we make these decision. We pull for them. We wish them all the best."
The release of Kafka and Scott leaves the Jaguars with three quarterbacks: starter Blaine Gabbert, backup Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi, acquired off waivers Tuesday after his release by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kafka, who had been with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 and 2011 before being released by the Patriots this offseason, joined the Jaguars shortly before the end of the offseason program. He spent camp and preseason competing with Scott for the third quarterback position before the acquisition of Stanzi, completing 13 of 29 passes for 73 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Scott completed 18 of 40 passes for 170 yards with an interception, committing two turnovers in the preseason finale against Atlanta – a fumble that was returned for a late first-half touchdown and an interception shortly thereafter that led to a field goal.
Bradley earlier Friday also talked about the acquisition of Stanzi, saying the team liked the third-year veteran from the University of Iowa although he did not play against Atlanta.
"We like what we saw on film of him – I can tell you that," Bradley said. "We really did. We liked him. We were evaluating him out in warm-ups (against Atlanta) when he was throwing the ball . . . so we did like him.
"One of our scouts was with Kansas City and was intrigued by him. I think they passed it onto us and we watched tape, so I can just tell you that we liked what we saw."
The moves Friday leave all three players acquired this week on the roster – Stanzi, cornerback Will Blackmon and defensive end Kyle Knox.
NFL teams may begin signing practice squad players at noon Sunday.