THE NFL PRESEASON is heating up, and several former Cougars are in the middle of the fire. A few of…
Roundup: Cougs in NFL preseason games
John Fullington: The starting offensive line performed well in the Green Bay Packers’ first preseason game, meaning the road to playing time will be tougher for Fullington. The team looks set at the guard position, and the two players who might give way to Fullington looked solid in the first game. J.C. Tretter, who is listed as a guard/center on the roster, started at center and helped block for James Starks to finish a 20-yard touchdown run. Bryan Bulaga, who is also an offensive tackle like Fullington, did not look like the player who has suffered a torn ACL and a hip injury in the last two years. In other words, the long list of returning offensive linemen will need to look vulnerable in the next few preseason games for Fullington to receive his shot. Another young tackle to watch would be David Bakhtiari, who is an offensive tackle that started 16 games last season as a rookie for the Packers. However, a sophomore slump could give Fullington a chance as well.
Andrew Furney: Of all the Cougars in the NFL right now, none of them got as much Week 1 preseason ink as Furney did for the game Thursday between the Jets and Colts. With just over a minute left in the game, Furney drilled a 51-yard field goal (pictured above) to break the tie and put the Jets ahead by three points. The lead held and New York earned the win over Indianapolis in their first preseason game of the year. Furney is almost certain to be cut by the Jets later on – their incumbent kicker just signed an offseason contract that guarantees him $2.1 million. But that 51-yarder also boosts considerably Furney’s chances for landing with another NFL squad after his expected release from New York.
Jeff Tuel: While E.J. Manuel seems to be the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Tuel is competing for the backup spot with Thaddeus Lewis. In the Bills’ preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, all three quarterbacks saw time as the signal-caller. Tuel was the most accurate of the three in terms of percentage, completing four of his five passes. However, Tuel’s one incompletion was an interception to cornerback Josh Norman. Tuel made up for his interception by throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, which ended up being just enough to hold off the Panthers’ late comeback. Neither Manuel nor Lewis threw touchdowns in the game. Manuel led the quarterbacks with 13 attempts and 96 passing yards.
Travis Long: The outside linebacker positions look full for the Philadelphia Eagles, meaning Long will need to show his skills whenever he can earn playing time during the preseason. He is not listed on the depth chart at either the outside or inside linebacker positions and at 6-4, 255-pounds, he’s likely not a viable NFL d-end. Long recorded two solo tackles in the first preseason game though, so there is still a chance the Eagles will form a positive evaluation of him that is strong enough to lead to a spot on the roster and possibly more playing time as a pass rush specialist.
Marquess Wilson: An unfortunate turn of events has landed the Chicago Bears’ wide receiver on the sideline for awhile. Wilson suffered a broken collarbone during practice on Aug. 4, leaving the Bears without the guy they wanted as their No. 3 receiver. The Bears do still have a healthy Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery but they should expect to play without Wilson for at least a few more weeks, perhaps longer. The Bears could use their one spot on injured reserve designated for a player who can return during the season, but that move would keep Wilson out for at least eight weeks before he could play again and Wilson probably won’t need that much time before he’s ready to return.
Jed Collins: The Detroit Lions fullback position looks like Collins’ to lose this season. He is listed at the top of the depth chart as the blocker/short-yardage back, even though he did not rush for any yards in Week 1 of the preseason. He was targeted once with a pass, but it was incomplete.
Husain Abdullah: The free safety was listed first on the depth chart at his position headed into the Kansas City Chiefs’ first preseason game on Thursday night. However, Abdullah had the least amount of playing time in the game among the safeties on the roster. He logged no stats in the game. The Chiefs did win their preseason debut, though, by a score of 41-39. And it’s not altogether unexpected for a team to want to get some looks at the other guys and not overplay their 1s.
Ropati Pitoitua: A defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, Pitoitua wasn’t able to make an impact statistically in the team’s preseason game against the Packers. He is listed second on the depth chart at the Titans’ defensive end position, behind Jurrell Casey, who had 10.5 sacks last season. Pitoitua has recorded seven sacks during his four years playing in the NFL.
Brandon Gibson: The Miami Dolphins had to like what they saw from their No. 3 receiver during their first preseason game of the season. Gibson provided the only touchdown of the day for the Dolphins as he caught a pass from Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter to draw first blood in the game. Gibson finished with two receptions and 14 receiving yards.
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