We did it. We survived another offseason. We survived months of not-football.
Our boys took care of business this past Saturday, but we can't forget about the second set of A&M players plying their trade on Sundays. With the dust finally settled on post-training camp personnel moves, we take a quick look around the league to see where you can find our professional Aggies.
Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OL
The Falcons have had a great deal of offseason turnover on the Offensive Line, but Matthews' job as the starting Left Tackle appears safe, pending lingering health concerns.
Matthews just returned to practice from a back strain and had offseason surgery to repair a Lisfranc ligament tear in his foot, so his health will be worth monitoring throughout.
If the foot holds up, we should be looking at a solid sophomore effort.
Chicago Bears: Martellus Bennett, TE
Is there a new article on ESPN entitled "Martellus Bennett: I Hate Everybody"? Of course there is. Because adding the name "Martellus Bennett" to any sentence immediately makes that sentence plausible. For example, if I were to tell you that Bennett quit the NFL to become an astronaut, you'd think it was ridiculous... but you'd also google the phrase "Martellus Bennett astronaut" to make sure.
That's his rep in the NFL. He's crazy, he's fun, and he's a great quote. But behind the ridiculousness, Money has entrenched himself at or near the top of that "non-Gronk/Graham" second tier of tight ends. He's bigger than the quick guys, he's quicker than the big guys, and he's positioned very well on a team with WR injury problems and a shaky secondary. The Bears will be in shootouts all season, and #83 is going to get a ton of looks.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sean Porter, LB; Cedric Ogbuehi, OL
Put simply, these two guys are ineligible for the first six weeks of the season. The Cincy SBNation site Cincy Jungle had a good write-up on the early injury struggles of both players.
[...] As for Ogbuehi, this move was expected all along for the rookie offensive lineman out of Texas A&M. The Bengals spent the No. 21 pick in this year's NFL draft knowing they would almost certainly keep him on the NFI list, making him ineligible for the first six games at least this year, while he rehabs from a torn ACL he suffered during his team's bowl game last season. Ogbuehi will remain with the team for rehab and meetings, but may not practice for Weeks 1-6 of the regular season. Beginning in Week 7, he will begin a window of eligibility to return to practice under a roster exemption, if medically cleared.
Porter, finally healthy, was active during Cincinnati's Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots. Cincinnati kicked off to New England and after the Patriots took a knee, Porter hobbled back to the sidelines with what was described as a "non-contact injury," and then later was determined to be a torn ACL. The fact he's still not fully recovered from it gives a grim outlook for his potential to help the Bengals, or any NFL team for that matter, in 2015.
Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB
I said some things about Brian Hoyer and the Browns last year.
The Browns, to their credit, picked Hoyer over Johnny and said no to new and exciting concepts like "fan support," "national TV ratings," and "people generally caring about their existence."
I said some things, and now I have to watch Hoyer start for my beloved Houston Texans. I apologize profusely for what I have done.
As for Johnny... his pre-season was cut short by elbow soreness before the 3rd preseason game. He appears to be ready to serve as the backup for their week one game against the Jets, but the opportunity to win the job in the preseason has come and gone.
Dallas Cowboys: Christine Michael, RB
Michael was recently traded from the Seahawks, which opened a few eyes around the league and caused some to wonder if he'd worn out his welcome in Seattle. It's clearly not a talent issue, as Christine certainly has the raw tools to produce at this level. Here's hoping that his move back to Texas will pay dividends for the (gulp) Cowboys.
Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB
There's nothing new to say about this guy, so here's a delightful assortment of Von sack celebration gifs.
Detroit Lions: Don Muhlbach, DS
This former A&M lineman is living the dream. Deep snap a few times per game, and collect the paycheck on Monday. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
You keep doing you, Don.
Houston Texans: Shane Lechler, P; Randy Bullock, K
Once again, the Texans will roll with an all-Aggie combo of Shane Lechler and Randy Bullock... but I have to mention the spectacular Hard Knocks performances by EZ and Travis Labhart.
First, EZ absolutely stole the show during a group trip to NASA.
then a delightful "buddy cop" friendship between EZ and Lab was highlighted for a good portion of the following episode, followed by a montage of Labhart inventing a locker room game set to the Top Gun Volleyball music. My worlds were colliding in spectacular fashion and it was amazing.
But Hard Knocks giveth, and Hard Knocks taketh away. The fourth episode closed on Labhart's heart-breaking cut scene, and EZ's cut scene on the final show wasn't any easier to watch (EZ has since been signed to Miami's practice squad).
It's a brutal business
Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OL
Luke was named to SBNation's list of NFL players down to their last chance.
[...] The Jacksonville Jaguars are also waiting for big things from Luke Joeckel, who missed 11 games as a rookie with a broken ankle. His return in 2014 was less than stellar.
It's a bit of an overreaction... but I certainly agree with the sentiment. #2 overall picks are expected to be a core piece of their organization by year three, and often times earlier than that. Per a recent ESPN mailbag that included a segment on Joeckel's development:
The main thing to look for regarding LT Luke Joeckel is consistency. Other than some mechanical issues with his hands, that has been his biggest problem.
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB
It's time. It's time for the leap. He has the skillset (prototypical pocket passer skills, enough speed to keep the D honest), he has the consistency (second year in Bill Lazor's offense), and now he has surrounding talent that perfectly fits his skillset (deep threats out; timing/intermediate WR's in). Lamar Miller and an improved defense will certainly help his cause, but the Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill will take them. Which, for the first time in his career, could very well be the playoffs.
New York Giants: DaMontre Moore, DE
This article title says it best: The Giants need production, not potential.
Moore has been in the system for two full years, and his biggest competition for playing time likes to play with fireworks.
It's now or never.
New York Jets: Jarvis Harrison, OL
Man, our O-Line tree is impressive. Harrison surprised many by sticking on the Jets' 53-man roster as a backup lineman. Kudos for making the squad against the odds, and best of luck this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cody Wallace, OL
Wallace is an oft-traveled interior lineman, and he currently hangs his hat in Pittsburgh. I'm not sure he would recognize the current Kyle Field, with its fancy wireless signals and what have you. He comes from a simpler time. A time with short side options, the Night of Champions, and oh god nevermind now I'm sad.
San Diego Chargers: Josh Lambo, K
Kicker U! In one of the bigger surprises of the offeason, Lambo beat out incumbent Nick Novak for the starting job. Gig 'em, Josh.
San Francisco 49ers: Tony Jerod-Eddie, DT
The entire organization appears to have left in the past year, but TJE keeps on truckin'. He was mic'd up in week one of the preseason, and he was as entertaining as ever.
Seattle Seahawks: Michael Bennett, DE; Patrick Lewis, C; Steven Terrell, DB
Ironically, Seattle has more Aggies than anyone else in the NFL... and that's even after they traded Christine Michael to Dallas. They appear pretty committed to this whole "12th man" thing I've heard so much about.
Bennett is an absolute beast on the D-Line, and he probably looks up only to Von Miller and Mike Evans in terms of raw production in the NFL. Lewis and Terrell have done well to earn spots on the best roster in the NFC, but neither seems likely to feature in the coming season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR; Jorvorskie Lane, RB
There were times last year where this column became the Mike Evans show. And that wasn't due to a lack of Aggie production... it was merely a recognition of some of the best rookie WR play the league has seen in years. The OBJ revelation in New York drew a great deal of attention away from a season-long performance that was good enough for a ROY award in a different year. He's primed and ready for more, and as long as he coats his equipment in crab juice he should get plenty of looks.
J-Train will do his best to keep the trains running on time (jokes!) in the ground game, leading the way for a hopefully rejuvenated Doug Martin and friends.
Finally, a quick shout out to those who were retained on an NFL team's 10-man practice squad.
Deshazor Everett, DB, Washington Redskins
Trey Williams, RB, Washington Redskins
Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Miami Dolphins
Gig 'em, Ags. And give 'em hell on Sundays.