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Huskers in the NFL Season Preview

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A look at every Husker in the NFL

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday August 31st was the final cut down day for every NFL team, meaning each team had to get down to 53 total players. This put some of our former Huskers back in the news by either making opening day rosters or being released. Now these rosters are not set in stone and some Huskers who were cut could be picked up or put on practice squads. Here is a look at my Huskers in the NFL Season Preview.

***Updated to reflect players added to practice squads***

Big Contract

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

David’s reward for helping the Bucs shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl is a two year $25 million dollar contract. David rejoins a talented Bucs defense that is looking to repeat as Super Bowl champs and continues to be one of the best linebackers in the league.

Change of Scenery

Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans

Spending the majority of his career in New England as the do it all back, Burkhead signed a one year deal with the Texans. Burkhead joins a loaded backfield that includes Mark Ingram, David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay.

Maliek Collins, Houston Texans

A disastrous season last year with the Raiders saw Collins miss several games and fail to register a single sack. Now he finds himself in Houston on a one year prove it deal. Collins played well in Dallas, so lets hope he can bounce back as a starter for the Texans under defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.

Chris Jones, Tennessee Titans

Jones came off the street to join the Vikings last year, filling in as a starter when Minnesota depleated at cornerback. Jones has an up and down year but was able to turn that into a two year contract with the Titans. Jones will be used as depth for a young secondary that has talent but is unproven.

Cethan Carter, Miami Dolphins

A talented blocker Carter saw his most action with the Bengals last year but signed a three year deal with the Dolphins. While the Dolphins have a solid pass catcher in Mike Gesicki they will likely lean on Carter to fill the blocking role either inline or as a pseudo fullback.

Back at It

Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay is running it back with their entire starting lineup returning from their Super Bowl win. This includes Suh who signed a one year deal to solidify their defensive line. Last year Suh finished with six sacks which was his best output since 2015.

Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys

Gregory enters the year as the starter at the weakside defensive end in Dan Quinn’s new 4-3 defense. With Demarcus Lawrence missing the first six weeks on the PUP list, Gregory will get his chance to show he still has what it takes to be a top pass rusher in this league.

Nick Gates, New York Giants

There were plenty of struggles for Nick Gates during his first year at center, let alone starting for the Giants. However Gates is back as the starter, but he’ll need to show more consistency if he wants to keep his job. New York made two trades this past week bringing in guard Ben Bredeson and former 1st round pick Billy Price who has center experience.

Andy Janovich, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland wants to be a run first team using their talented running backs. We’ll see Jano out there from time to time as the lead blocker and on special teams.

Sam Koch, Baltimore Ravens

Entering his 16 year in the NFL, Koch is still regarded as one of the best punters in the NFL. But with a high scoring offense led by Lamar Jackson, we don’t normally get to see much of Koch punting.

Richie Incognito, Las Vegas Raiders

Last year Incognito was the opening week starter at left guard but suffered an achilles injury that cost him his season. He’s back now and the Raiders hope his veteran presence will help out a young offensive line that’s filled with new faces.

Rookies

Brenden Jaimes, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers 5th round pick, Jaimes is the only backup guard Los Angeles ended up keeping. But keep an eye out as the Chargers two starting guards should be on short leashes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaimes ends up taking over at some point.

Matt Farniok, Dallas Cowboys

Farniok had his work cut out for him making the Cowboys roster that is filled with talent. But right now he is listed as their backup center behind rookie standout Tyler Biadasz. Keep an eye on Farniok and the Cowboys who will be activating Connor Williams from the Covid list. That likely means either Farniok or Brandon Knight could be cut.

Jack Stoll, Philadelphia Eagles

It was a bit of a surprise that Stoll made the Eagles 53 man roster, especially with them keeping four tight ends. This likely means that veteran Zach Ertz is likely to be traded. Stoll is the only undrafted free agent from this past year to make the team.

Just Made the Cut

Khalil Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Luke Gifford, Dallas Cowboys
Stanley Morgan, Cincinnati Bengals
Carlos Davis, Pittsburgh Steelers

Both Carlos and Khalil Davis got action late in the season and made some plays. I can’t wait to see them more active this year and whether or not they can make an impact. Gifford is a valuable member of special teams but saw little action on defense. Morgan was a beast on special teams last year and his playing time continued to improve as the season wore on. We’ll see if he can get a target this year.

Practice Squad

Lamar Jackson, New York Jets
Dedrick Mills, Detroit Lions
Dicaprio Bootle, Kansas City Chiefs
Devine Ozigbo, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ameer Abdullah, Minnesota Vikings

It’s no surprise these players made practice squads. Lamar Jackson started games last year for the Jets and fits the Cover 3 defense that New York will run. Bootle is someone to watch as the Chiefs could view him as a developmental defensive back that could play safety or corner and could use his time on the practice squad to hone his craft. Ozigbo and Abdullah are veterans who will likely be activated at some point this season.

Missed the Cut

Darrion Daniels, San Francisco 49ers
Freedom Akinmoladun, Tennessee Titans
De’Mornay Pierson-El, Denver Broncos

Retired or Injured

Joshua Kalu, New York Giants

A torn pectoral muscle during the first preseason game cost Kalu his 2021 season as the Giants placed him on the injured reserve, making him ineligible to return.

Alex Lewis, New York Jets

Lewis played well in stretches last year but suffered some nagging injuries and then had an issue with former head coach Adam Gase that had him suspended the rest of the year. Lewis has decided to return because of injuries. Still young, Lewis may end up sitting out a year before trying to make a return.

Cut During Training Camp

Prince Amukamara, New Orleans Saints

Brett Maher, New Orleans Saints

Brent Qvale, Tennessee Titans

Nate Gerry, San Francisco 49ers

Prince failed to make a game day roster last season, so it wasn’t a surprise that he didn’t make a team this season. Qvale spent many years as a backup in Houston but failed to catch on with the Titans. Gerry started most of last year before an injury and then signed with the 49ers before being cut. We’ll see if he lands with another team as a special teams contributor.