With the third week of NFL preseason action fast approaching, we take a look at a few former Wildcats searching for their place in the league:
DE Deonte Gibson, Detroit Lions
When we last checked in on Gibson, he was nursing a knee injury sustained during camp. He has since recovered and appeared in the Lions second preseason game of the year, a 30-14 loss to Cincinnati.
Gibson registered two total tackles in the game, one of which was a tackle for loss; his active participation in preseason games and practices will be important for his chances of making the roster, given his current fringe candidate status. The Lions are not very deep at defensive end.
WR Miles Shuler, Carolina Panthers
Not much has changed on the Shuler front. He remains with the Panthers, but didn’t appear in their second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
Wideout remains a position of relative depth for Carolina and, without opportunity, it may prove tough for Shuler to survive inevitable roster-shaving as the regular season draws closer.
WR Kain Colter, Buffalo Bills
Similar to Shuler, Colter’s status in Buffalo remains static. There were no rumblings about his performance in practice last week and his second preseason outing went about as well as the first: zero receptions on two targets.
Colter can offer an interesting dynamic to a team at the professional level, but he’ll need to perform better with the lights on to get the chance to prove himself.
WR Kyle Prater, New Orleans Saints
Prater was placed on injured reserve by New Orleans on August 4 after suffering an ankle injury in practice. Still, this keeps him with the team through the entire season, which is a plus. The Saints could have just waived him.
WR Rashad Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Lawrence stands a pretty good chance of making the Jags, but he has generated more buzz in practice than on the field this preseason. In his first preseason appearance against the Buccaneers, Lawrence was targeted twice and did not register a reception... But he pulled in this nifty TD grab in practice last week:
All wasn’t lost for Lawrence in the Tampa Bay contest, though. Before the game, he had a chance to reunite with former Northwestern teammate Danny Vitale, now of the Buccaneers.
S Jimmy Hall, Oakland Raiders
Hall signed with the Raiders as an UDFA in 2015 and spent all of last season with Oakland on injured reserve. He has continued to fight nagging injuries this offseason, as well; Hall was out of practice much of the week leading up to Oakland’s preseason opener and was eventually scratched from the contest.
S Jimmy Hall, CB Antonio Hamilton, and RB Jalen Richard will not dress in tonight's game.— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) August 13, 2016
Hall made his return to practice on August 15 but didn’t appear in the Raiders second preseason game against Green Bay.
Speaking of the Packers...
DE Dean Lowry, Green Bay Packers
Lowry was again tabbed to start in preseason action for Green Bay, this time against Oakland.
#Packers 4th-round rookie Dean Lowry gets second straight start as 5-tech DE in base. Keeping Letroy Guion at nose tackle, not Kenny Clark.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 19, 2016
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy started Lowry on the outside in the 5-tech defensive end slot, but eventually shifted him to the inside, as he searches for the best position to utilize Lowry’s length and endless motor.
Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark now sharing snaps as interior rushers in #Packers nickel. Lowry shifted inside to a 1-tech before snap.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 19, 2016
The Northwestern product fared slightly better in this contest than his first one, registering one tackle compared to none in his first appearance.
FB Dan Vitale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vitale wasn’t of much use in the passing game in the Buccaneers second preseason game of the year, a 27-21 victory over Jacksonville; he hauled in one pass for -2 yards on the evening.
Flexibility has been a focus for Vitale throughout camp, though, and he showed his ability to affect the game in areas besides catching the football out of the backfield or in the tight end slot.
Bucs rookie TE Danny Vitale led team with 17 snaps on special teams, tied rookie RB Russell Hansbrough for team lead with 2 teams tackles.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 21, 2016
Special teams may prove to be the beginning of Vitale’s road to being a consistent contributor at the professional level, especially with names like Cameron Brate, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Luke Stocker listed ahead of him at the tight end and fullback positions respectively.
QB Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
A lot of you probably scrolled past all those other names to get to this guy, didn’t you? Didn’t you?
It’d be hard to blame you if you did; Siemian has been the talk of Broncos camp for the past month, as the former Wildcat currently finds himself in heated competition for the starting quarterback job of the defending Super Bowl champion.
His adversaries? Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch. Siemian was named the Broncos’ co-starting quarterback (along with Sanchez) ahead of Denver’s first preseason matchup against the Chicago Bears and things were progressing just perfectly. After playing Sanchez near-level in the Broncos’ first preseason contest and out-classing his competition in practice, Siemian was tabbed to start the team’s second game: a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
It started well for Touchdown Trev. He opened the game by leading a 10 play, 86 yard drive that culminated in a 19-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson, completing 5 of 6 passes for 55 yards along the way. But then this:
Not only did this play spiral the rest of Siemian’s night out of control (he finished 10-for-14 with 75 yards, an interception and the lowest quarterback rating of the three Denver quarterbacks), he also injured his shoulder trying to take down Reid at the end of the play.
Siemian was limited in practice on Tuesday and is not expected to throw at practice on Wednesday, though he will participate. Despite all of this, Denver head coach Gary Kubiak has already named Siemian the Broncos’ starter Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams.
#Broncos QB Trevor Siemian will start the third preseason game, coach Gary Kubiak told reporters. A very good sign for him for this season— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 22, 2016
Though Siemian is listed as questionable for the game, this bodes well for his chances of ultimately winning the job. If he can get back on the field at full strength this weekend, he could have this competition won as early as next week... And make a little history while he’s at it:
Trevor Siemian in line to become first QB to start a defending Super Bowl-champ's season opener with 0 NFL career pass attempts to his name.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2016
DID YOU KNOW: A Northwestern QB hasn't started an NFL season opener since Otto Graham in 1955.— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) August 23, 2016
It could happen with Trevor Siemian and DEN.