Entering training camp across the National Football League, there were 20 former Wildcats who were a part of 90-man rosters (Flynn Nagel was not signed by the Giants after he worked out for them, and is still trying to find a team).
After two games, find out which of those 20 have done what they needed to do in order to solidify a role for the regular season, and which still have work left in front of them.
UPDATE: Tommy Doles, who was signed by the Atlanta Falcons a few days into training camp, was not initially a part of this article. The former Northwestern guard got some snaps in his first preseason action last week, but faces an uphill climb to make the final roster.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers - With Melvin Gordon five weeks into his preseason holdout, Jackson continues to take advantage of his increased opportunity. His Week 2 numbers, 8 rushes for 33 yards along with a single reception for nine yards, look relatively pedestrian, but he impressed with one first down gain in particular, absolutely embarrassing a poor Saints defender:
JJTBC continues to earn raves from camp, and will be a big part of the offense regardless of the situation in the running backs room when the opener rolls around. But if he continues to play at this impressive level, he will have earned a shot as the legitimate starter given the continued absence of Gordon.
Clayton Thorson, QB, Philadelphia Eagles - Thorson was much-improved in his second preseason game, playing 57 minutes after an injury to Cody Kessler and leading the Eagles to a 24-10 victory with a solid stat line (16/26, 175 yards, TD, INT). If you haven’t already, check out his first professional touchdown pass!
With Kessler and Nate Sudfeld injured, the Eagles have brought in Josh McCown as a veteran backup, but Thorson’s roster spot looks safe for now even if he won’t be the primary signal-caller behind Xarson Wentz.
Austin Carr, WR, New Orleans Saints - The former Wildcat slot wizard only made one catch in his second preseason game, but it was a doozy:
After spending last year on the periphery of the conversation at receiver for New Orleans, Carr looks to be giving himself a good shot to not only reach the roster once more, but play his way into a real role, despite a relative lack of buzz about his play.
Trevor Siemian, QB, New York Jets - Siemian continues to battle it out for the backup spot behind Sam Darnold, seemingly holding a slight edge over former Pac-12 studs Luke Falk and Davis Webb. The former 7th-round pick didn’t get much action in last week’s 22-10 win over Atlanta, completing two of four passes for just ten yards.
Godwin Igwebuike, S, New York Jets - After being waived just prior to the beginning of camp by the Eagles, Igwebuike caught on almost immediately with the Jets. The safety, who has bounced around a ton in his young career, has an upward battle to make the roster, though he helped his cause with three solo tackles (1 TFL) in Thursday’s win.
Anthony Walker, MLB, Indianapolis Colts - Despite lots of rumblings regarding a potential challenge from rookie Bobby Okereke, Walker seems to be gaining ground and trending towards easily reclaiming his starting linebacker job, at least according to camp reports. He played with the first-team defense in the Colts’ 21-18 loss to the Browns, recording three tackles.
Garrett Dickerson, TE, New York Giants - Dickerson, who looks set to reprise his role from last year as a reserve and primarily blocking tight end (though he needs to beat out CJ Conrad in a competition that has reportedly been pretty close), nabbed two passes for 17 yards in the Giants’ 32-13 win over the Bears. Namely, he made an impressive play in traffic for his first professional touchdown late in the game:
Sherrick McManis, CB, Chicago Bears - McManis is a mortal lock to reprise his role as a special teams ace for the Bears once more. But after getting some snaps at nickel back in crucial situations late last year amidst injuries, he is embracing a new challenge by competing for a role in the two-deep at corner. He recorded four tackles on Friday.
Dean Lowry, DE, Green Bay Packers - After his offseason extension, Lowry is locked into a starting role with the Packers, and is in position to impress. He did not record a stat in Thursday’s 26-13 loss to the Ravens.
Tyler Lancaster, NT, Green Bay Packers - Lancaster is battling to hold onto the rotational role that he garnered down the stretch last season, but looks to be in the driver’s seat. He notched three tackles in last week’s game.
Dan Vitale, FB, Green Bay Packers - The fullback with the impressive mustache has battled a calf injury lately, but still looks to be on track to start for Green Bay against the Bears in Week 1.
Jordan Thompson, DL, San Francisco 49ers - The rookie, who was a late add to San Fran’s roster for training camp, earned one of the 49ers’ whopping 11 TFLs in their 24-15 Monday night win over Denver. He’s got a long way to go to make the 53-man roster, but Thompson has at least a shot at reaching the practice squad.
Joe Jones, LB, Denver Broncos - Jones has been out for a couple of weeks with a partially torn triceps. The special teams contributor and reserve linebacker reached Denver’s final roster in 2018, but may have to wait a while for his injury to heal.
Nate Hall, LB, Dallas Cowboys - Hall, in the midst of an impressive camp, seems to have a legitimate shot at making the final cut. In the Cowboys’ 14-10 win over the Rams in Hawaii, he recorded three tackles, but the advanced metrics were much more impressed with his performance than the basic stats show:
Cowboy LB Nate Hall didn't start, but he did earn the highest grade in the game among players with 20+ snaps (87.1)— PFF DAL Cowboys (@PFF_Cowboys) August 19, 2019
Hall secured two defensive stops and surrendured a 56.3 passer rating when targeted pic.twitter.com/q5siS3nuqp
Kyle Queiro, LB, Dallas Cowboys - Queiro did not travel with the team to Hawaii. The reason for his absence has not been specified.
Blake Hance, OT, Washington - Hance got plenty of playing time in Washington’s 23-13 loss on Thursday, and seems to be impressing. Here’s a cool shoutout of some nice work from the former Wildcat tackle on a screen pass:
Blake Hance shoutout. Moving really well in space leading the charge on this screen. In a perfect world you'd like to see him finish the block but it's still a nice rep. Think Hance is a perfect candidate for the practice squad. pic.twitter.com/CinDd3aROB— Robbie Duncan (@RobbieDuncanOL) August 18, 2019
It looks like Hance will be able to earn some sort of role in our nation’s capital.
Montre Hartage, S, Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins appear to have converted the former standout corner to safety, but it appears that Hartage has a good chance to make the roster in his new role. According to beat writers, he is currently battling for the backup free safety slot. Hartage recorded two tackles in Miami’s 16-14 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday.
Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Minnesota Vikings - Odenigbo racked up three QB hits in addition to a half-sack in Minnesota’s 25-19 win over Seattle. The talented former Northwestern star is making headway in his return to the Vikings after brief stints with both Arizona and Cleveland in 2018, and has a good chance to latch on a pass-rusher.