With the first week of the NFL preseason finished and the second week upon us, we take a look at the former Wildcats battling for roster spots and one battling for a starting job. (We’ll let you guess who.)
DE Deonte Gibson, Detroit Lions
Gibson inked a deal with Detroit as an undrafted free agent back in April and is currently listed on the Lions’ roster, though he didn’t play in their preseason opener due to a knee injury suffered during camp:
Deonte Gibson is getting looked at right now. Trainer is icing his knee.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 5, 2016
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein predicted a parting of ways between Gibson and Detroit in his latest roster projection for the Lions.
WR Miles Shuler, Carolina Panthers
Shuler signed with Carolina in May and has showed flashes of potential during camp action:
DA and WR Miles Shuler connect for a short TD during 2-min drill with 6 seconds on the clock. Cam Newton yells in celebration.— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) August 9, 2016
In Carolina’s only preseason game, a 22-19 loss to Baltimore, Shuler failed to reel in his only target and was not called upon in the return game; special teams is a phase Shuler stood out in during his time at Northwestern and likely something that would help him make the Carolina roster.
WR Kain Colter, Buffalo Bills
Colter, a wide receiver convert, signed with the Bills at the beginning of August after failing to stick in Los Angeles with the Rams. He was targeted three times in Buffalo’s preseason opening loss to the Colts, but didn’t register a catch in the game.
Colter and former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones seem to be establishing a rapport, though:
Will probably see a lot of this in preseason game number one. Cardale Jones to Kain Colter: pic.twitter.com/omwNbu30xV— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) August 5, 2016
WR Kyle Prater, New Orleans Saints
Prater signed with New Orleans in February with an outsider’s chance of making the roster but gained traction in camp by way of a few nice catches:
Kyle Prater with a nice catch in position drills https://t.co/0lMTYUTIri— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) July 29, 2016
Kyle prater with the strong hands https://t.co/VwTI80tcnq— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) July 31, 2016
Unfortunately, Prater went down with an ankle injury before preseason action kicked off and was waived by New Orleans on August 3. The next day, after clearing waivers, the Saints placed Prater on injured reserve, which will keep him tethered to the team for the time being.
WR Rashad Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Since going undrafted in 2014, Lawrence has spent time with Washington, Chicago and Jacksonville. He was signed to the Jaguars’ practice squad last September and was promoted to the active roster in December.
Lawrence has been hobbled by a hamstring injury since August 3 and was a scratch for Jacksonville’s first preseason game against the Jets. He still stands a chance of being on the roster come Week 1, though, given his history with the team.
DE Dean Lowry, Green Bay Packers
These final three guys all have much clearer paths to an official NFL roster spot than the five above them. Lowry, a fourth-round selection by Green Bay, has garnered high praise from head coach Mike McCarthy for his play during camp:
McCarthy likes urgency, tempo and quickness of Dean Lowry.— Packer Report (@PackerReport) August 4, 2016
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on Rockford's Dean Lowry: "You can never have enough big lineman like that." @rrstar_sports— Jay Taft (@JayTaft) August 4, 2016
Lowry parlayed his impressive camp into a start in the Packers’ preseason opener:
Rookie DE Dean Lowry was in #Packers starting base defense with Letroy Guion at NT and Mike Daniels at DE. No Kenny Clark.— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) August 13, 2016
Lowry did not register a tackle in the game. Green Bay runs a base 3-4 defense, which will be an adjustment for Lowry, who predominately operated in the 4-3 at Northwestern. But with starting defensive end Mike Pennel suspended for the first four games of the season, the opportunity is there for Lowry to seize a legitimate role along the Green Bay defensive line as early as his rookie year. Here’s more on how he fits with the Packers.
FB Dan Vitale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A sixth-round pick in 2016 by Tampa Bay, Vitale, like Lowry, is virtually a lock for a roster spot this season. However, it’s still worth noting that Vitale has been awesome throughout Bucs’ camp and is gaining serious traction in large part due to his versatility as an offensive weapon.
Great adjustment to the catch by Dan Vitale pic.twitter.com/YG4BKV6S8p— Trevor Sikkema (@TrevorSikkema) August 15, 2016
Vitale hauled in one catch for five yards in Tampa’s preseason-opening loss to Philadelphia. He’s also kept a rookie diary during training camp.
QB Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
Guys, this is real.
Siemian rolled into Week 1 of the preseason on the heels of a phenomenal training camp and with deserved momentum after being named the Broncos’ ‘co-starting’ quarterback last week. Mark Sanchez started Denver’s preseason opener against Chicago, but the two went essentially tit-for-tat: Sanchez completed 10 of 13 passes for 99 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Siemian completed 7 of 12 passes for 88 yards. One of those completions, we should mention, was pretty spectacular:
Touchdown Trev actually failed to toss a TD in the game but refrained from turning the ball over, too. Rookie first-round selection Paxton Lynch also played well, completing 6 of 7 passes for 74 yards, but all signs point to the QB competition in Denver boiling down to Sanchez and Siemian.