With the NFL preseason hitting the midway point, it seems like a good time to check in on a few former members of the WSU football team to see how they are faring leading up to the NFL regular season. WSU hasn't been a NFL pipeline in recent seasons, but more than a few Cougars are attempting to secure spots on the active roster.
Jeff Tuel, Buffalo Bills
When Tuel signed with the Bills, he was considered a long shot to the make the roster. Then Tarvaris Jackson was released, giving Tuel a good shot to earn the No. 3 job. Now, with the injury to E.J. Manuel, Tuel not only appears to be on his way to making the 53-man roster, he could start the season opener.
Manuel's status for Week 1 is unknown and Kevin Kolb has also battled injuries during training camp. Kolb is currently healthy, but after a strong showing in the first preseason game, Tuel has an outside shot to win the job if Manuel isn't ready. Here is Bills head coach Doug Marrone on Tuel, via the team website:
"I think at first what happens, it was interesting, when you draft, what we've seen publicly is a lot of the emphasis on obviously EJ and Kevin," said Marrone. "I think if you go back and you look in the beginning, I said ‘Hey I really like this kid we took from Washington State who's really done a good job.'
"I think that we've seen that he's gone in there and he's really done a nice job. At the end of the day, do I really want to say he's in competition with that? Obviously I do because I want all of our players, not just Jeff, to understand that no matter where they may stand on the depth chart, they're fighting for the position to be a starter. I don't want our players to think ‘Hey I'm fighting for this position, he's the starter, maybe I could be number two or three.'
Travis Long, Philadelphia Eagles
Although he is yet to record a tackle in two preseason games, Long still has a chance to make the roster. The Eagles lost another linebacker to a torn ACL, possibly giving Long an opportunity. In two games, Long has been on the field for 20 defensive snaps and 15 special teams snaps. He was in on 10 of Philadelphia's 24 special teams plays in Week 2. If he's going to make the roster, he'll likely need to make an impact on special teams.
Brandon Gibson, Miami Dolphins
Gibson is easing into his first season in Miami and has four catches for 53 yards in three preseason games (the Dolphins played in the Hall of Fame Game). He's currently listed as Miami's No. 3 wide receiver and figures to play a significant role in the offense this season. He will reportedly operate out of the slot for the Dolphins, a different role than he had playing outside in St. Louis.
Ropati Pitoitua, Tennessee Titans
Pitoitua broke his hand during the preseason and will need surgery, but is expected to play with a cast on his hand. Injuries have limited Pitoitua during his career and this appears to be another setback, even if he is able to play through it.
Husain Abdullah, Kansas City Chiefs
Abdullah is back in the NFL after a year away and has a good shot to make the Chiefs' active roster. He's currently listed as the No. 2 free safety. He's racked up seven tackles and a pass deflection through two games.
Eric Frampton, Dallas Cowboys
Frampton injured his calf on Aug. 8 and is yet to return to practice. He's developed a reputation as a great special teams player and played a lot of safety last season for Dallas, yet his status is in doubt with him sidelined. If he's able to return before the season, he should have a chance to secure a spot on the roster, but if not, Dallas may opt to release him.
Marcus Trufant, Jacksonville Jaguars
Now with the Jaguars, Trufant intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass in the endzone. Suck on that USC. Trufant is competing for the slot corner job with Jacksonville.
Jed Collins, New Orleans
Jedzilla is secure as New Orleans' starting fullback. He has two catches for seven yards in the preseason. Collins secured his job with the Saints in 2011 and has performed well since. It also helps Sean Payton likes to use a fullback as many other teams go away from the position.
Rian Lindell, Buffalo Bills
The Bills released Lindell this week after 10 years in Buffalo. He lost the kicking job to rookie Dustin Hopkins and we'll now have to see if he catches on with another team. First Reid Forrest, now Rian Lindell. If the Bills release Jeff Tuel, we're going to send Craig to Buffalo to poke people in the eyes with jumbo chalk.
Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears
Wilson had a great debut game, catching four passes for 82 yards in the preseason opener. He followed that up with a zero-catch performance in the second game. Wilson wasn't targeted in the second game, although he did play 16 snaps on offense. The Bears are giving him an extended look on special teams, including 11 snaps in Week 2, and he may need to perform if he's going to make the roster.
He's flashed the big play ability we saw so often at WSU, so there is a good chance he at least makes a practice squad.
Carolina released Zach Williams in May. Erik Coleman is yet to sign with a team after being released by Detroit last December. I wasn't able to find anything new on Jerome Harrison who remains out of football due to a benign brain tumor.