Bulls in the NFL: Your preseason guide
With the NFL's preseason getting fully underway tonight, it's a good time to revisit former USF players in NFL camps -- there are 20 in all, though only nine or so can be fully confident of making a regular-season roster. For the rest, that means the next four weekends are hugely important as they try to establish themselves as being NFL-worthy.
First, to recap the nine that enter camp with a strong likelihood of making a 53-man roster: You have defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Jacquian Williams with the Giants, safety Mistral Raymond and linebacker Tyrone McKenzie with the Vikings, linebacker Stephen Nicholas with the Falcons, safety Nate Allen with the Eagles, cornerback Mike Jenkins with the Raiders, cornerback Jerome Murphy with the Redskins and rookie Kayvon Webster with the Broncos. Any of those guys get cut, it's surprising, at least for me.
Here are the rest and when you can see them in action:
WR Carlton Mitchell, Bucs: Tampa Bay's at home tonight against Baltimore, and Mitchell is battling for a backup job -- you could argue 3-4 spots are locked up with Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Tiquan Underwood and Kevin Ogletree, so that leaves only one, maybe two spots left for a group that includes Mitchell and veterans Chris Owusu (who was at Stanford when Willie Taggart coached there) and Derek Hagan. If Mitchell doesn't stick in Tampa, the rash of season-ending WR injuries may help him latch on elsewhere. He's wearing No. 12 for the Bucs.
CB George Baker and PK Maikon Bonani, Titans: Tennessee is home tonight against Washington. Bonani got a great break, as kicker Rob Bironas, the Titans' kicker for the past eight years, is limited by a back injury, so Bonani gets tonight's kicks. That puts him on film for NFL teams and helps him get on that call list when a team has a kicker hurt or just inconsistent. Baker, too, faces long odds as an undrafted rookie, so he has to make plays any time he's on the field. Here's a pic of him from Titans practice this week. He's wearing No. 40 for Tennessee.
QB B.J. Daniels, 49ers: Making a roster is never a sure thing for a seventh-round pick, but the local writeups on Daniels have been good as he goes after San Francisco's No. 3 QB job behind Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy. He's battling a third-year QB in Scott Tolzien who has two years in the offense but hasn't gotten into any games. Daniels, now wearing No. 5, has to show a developing command of the offense when he gets on the field this month. San Francisco opens its preseason tonight at home against Denver and Kayvon Webster.
DT Cory Grissom, Patriots: New England opens at Philadelphia on Friday night, and Grissom has a decent shot for an undrafted rookie. Reading this story, he's one of three young options for the fourth DT spot. He had been held out a few days initially due to a possible concussion but should be fine to play this weekend. He's wearing No. 67 for the Patriots.
DT Terrell McClain, Texans: Houston is at Minnesota on Friday night, and it's surprising to see McClain on the NFL bubble, just two years after Carolina made him a third-round pick. The Panthers cut him last year and he spent one week with the Patriots before finishing the year in Houston, playing in three games but not registering a tackle. This Texans blogger, projecting the 53-man roster, has McClain just making the cut. He's wearing his familiar No. 97 in Houston.
OL Jeremiah Warren, Saints: New Orleans opens at home Friday night against the Chiefs, and Warren is trying to make the Saints' roster as a versatile inside lineman who can play guard or center. This analysis of the position says Warren is likely battling for a spot on the practice squad -- that's where he was last year in New England. He's wearing No. 63 for New Orleans.
LB Sam Barrington, Packers: Another seventh-round pick who can earn a roster spot with a solid preseason, Barrington should make his debut Friday night at home against Arizona. Barrington's versatility in playing multiple linebacker spots should help him -- this update says he got into a scuffle with a teammate in practice, so he's ready to hit someone on another team. He's wearing No. 58 in Green Bay.
DE George Selvie, Cowboys: Dallas already played in the Hall of Fame game against Miami and Selvie was literally the star of the game, breaking through for two sacks and reminding fans of his dominant play in 2006-07 at USF. Here's a good writeup from that game, including video of Selvie -- he has to continue to produce at a high level to make the 53-man roster as a late-summer addition. He's wearing No. 98 in Dallas.
LB Kion Wilson, Steelers: Wilson has to wait until Saturday night, at home against the Giants. To make an NFL roster as a backup linebacker, you probably have to shine on special teams -- this story suggests his toughest competition is a relatively unproven player, Marshall McFadden. Wilson made rosters under similar circumstances with the Chargers in 2010 and Panthers in 2011. He's wearing No. 48 in Pittsburgh.
OL Danous Estenor, Colts: The latest USF addition to an NFL camp is also the last to play this weekend, as the Colts play Sunday afternoon at home against Buffalo. Estenor was undrafted in April and went to the Colts' rookie minicamp but wasn't initially signed. As such, he'll be among the first linemen cut if he can't show something in these first preseason games. He's wearing No. 65 for Indy, and this 2011 story of him lifting a car to help save a man's life remains one of my favorites covering USF.