Summer is winding down, schools are starting back, and tailgating commercials are coming back to network television. You guessed it, we are on the verge of football season!
As we all prepare to watch the Kentucky Wildcats storm
Commonwealth Stadium Kroger Field on Saturdays, it is also important that we support the former Cats on Sundays. Let’s take a look at where you can find them.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Coming off of back to back disappointing seasons, Cobb is looking to regain the magic he found in his 2014 campaign. Still a top-three receiving option for future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers, Cobb will definitely have his chance to make an impact for the Packers.
Bud Dupree, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite suffering a few injury setbacks, as last season went on Dupree found more and more playing time for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Coming off of a particularly impressive post-season (15 tackles and .5 sacks in 3 games), he is projected to start at outside linebacker opposite James Harrison. He seems to fit perfectly into what the Steelers are trying to do on that side of the ball.
Josh Forrest, LB, Los Angeles Rams
Forrest was the only player drafter for the Cats in 2016, Forrest earned more playing time as last season went on. He is currently listed as the first inside linebacker off the bench for the Rams, so he is sure to see his fair share of clock this season.
J.D. Harmon, DB, Cleveland Browns
The undrafted rookie is battling for a roster spot with the Browns. In their first preseason game this season, he had 1 assisted tackled. Kentucky fans already know that he is not afraid to dive headfirst into the action.
Farrington Huguenin, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Signed by the Steelers to a reserve/future contract in January, Huguenin is also trying to earn a spot on an NFL roster after being cut by the Miami Dolphins due to injury in August 2016.
Cory Johnson, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Johnson is hoping to earn a spot in the rotation at nose tackle with the Chiefs. He had a solid senior season for Kentucky in 2015, but has yet to find his place in the NFL.
Chris Matthews, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Entering his 3rd season with the Ravens, Matthews is trying to bounce back after missing the entirety of 2016 due to injury. He has shown potential at times, and hopefully will work his way into the receiving rotation in Baltimore this season.
Marcus McWilson, S, Oakland Raiders
After going undrafted this spring, McWilson earned a roster spot in mini-camp as he signed with the Raiders back in May. He is currently listed as 3rd on the depth chart at free safety, but could see some playing time on special teams as he develops into an NFL defensive back.
Corey Peters, DT, Arizona Cardinals
Entering his 8th NFL season (his 2nd with the Cardinals), Peters is looking to continue his production as the starting nose tackle. He had a career high 5 stuffs at the line last season, and as long as his health remains stable he can be a force up the middle for Arizona.
Za’Darius Smith, LB, Baltimore Ravens
After seeing a slight decrease in both playing time and production from 2015 last season, Smith hopes to contribute to an aging linebacker group in Baltimore. He had 10 tackles and 1 solo sack last season, and currently sits in the 3rd slot at outside linebacker on the depth chart.
Danny Trevathan, LB, Chicago Bears
In his 2nd season in Chicago, Trevathan hopes to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2016 season where he missed almost half of the season. Still productive when he was available, he will be starting at inside linebacker for the Bears and will be a veteran leader for their defensive unit.
Larry Warford, OG, New Orleans Saints
After spending four seasons as an anchor of the Detroit Lions offensive line, Warford will be starting at right guard for the Saints this year. He was not re-signed by the Lions after the season, but was quickly scooped up by New Orleans and hopes to continue his success there.
Stanley “Boom” Williams, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
One of Kentucky’s few early departures for the NFL, Boom went undrafted but was quickly picked up by the Bengals. Cincinnati has great depth at running back with Jeremy Hill, Giovanni Bernard, and rookie Joe Mixon. However, Bernard is a great blueprint for the type of NFL running back Boom could become. For now, he is likely to get most of his playing time on special teams.
Avery Williamson, LB, Tennessee Titans
Williamson has put together fantastic back to back seasons for the Titans, averaging 102.5 tackles and 2.75 tackles over that span. He will be joining another former Wildcat, Wesley Woodyard, in the starting inside linebacker role for Tennessee this season.
Wesley Woodyard, LB, Tennessee Titans
Entering his 10th season in the NFL (4th with Tennessee), Woodyard will be playing beside Avery Williamson to lead the Titans defense. Although his numbers were down a bit last season, he continues to be a solid performer, especially in pass coverage.
There are several other Kentucky guys that may get picked up at some point this season (Winston Guy, Jacob Tamme, Ronnie Shields, Stevie Johnson, etc.). Even if they do not end up in the league, Kentucky’s presence in the NFL continues to grow.
This gives Big Blue Nation a great reason to enjoy watching football on Sundays, even during basketball season.