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Friday Headlines: Former Wildcats make NFL Practice Squads

Three former Cats are sticking around.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

This past Tuesday was the annual NFL cutdown day, where teams have to trim their preseason rosters down to 53 players ahead of Week One of the regular season. With that, several Kentucky players were cut. However, there were 16 former Wildcats that did make NFL teams — which was great to see.

It was also nice to see three former Wildcats who were cut make the practice team on Thursday. Darian Kinnard, Lynn Bowden, and Tashawn Manning all returned to their respective teams from the preseason.

Bowden is on the New Orleans Saints practice squad. He played two preseason games for the Saints (one start) and caught three of six targets for 40 yards. After being a third-round pick by the Las Vegas Raiders back in 2020, he was quickly traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent two seasons before ending up with New England last year.

New Orleans’ wide receiver room isn’t the greatest, so he may be able to utilize his unique skill set to carve his way to the 53-man roster. It should be noted that new Saints quarterback Derek Carr was Bowden’s QB (for a short stint) with the Raiders.

Kinnard was believed to be an all-world prospect coming out of Kentucky and heading to the pros before sliding all the way to the fifth round in the 2022 NFL draft. He was selected by the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs but played in just one game last year and saw six snaps on special teams. It’s hard to say anything is more valuable than a dependable tackle to protect a team’s star QB, so the Chiefs will probably keep Kinnard close by in case they need to add him to the active roster.

Manning one season with the Wildcats last year before heading to the NFL. He wasn’t drafted but was almost immediately picked up by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. Manning was able to secure a signing bonus along with a guaranteed salary. Though Manning is a guard, he’s in a similar situation to Kinnard, where he’s inexpensive against the salary cap and productive offensive linemen don’t exactly pop up often. With Ravens QB Lamar Jackson leading the charge, Baltimore will likely keep Manning around in case they need to plug him in throughout the year.

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