So here we are, less than one week away from kicking off the 2013 NFL season and boy I'm ready to see Jeremy Mac... Oh he's hurt you say? Oh well, at least I'll get to see Danario Ale... HIM too? Jesus. Well I sure hope Brad Smi... GOOD GOD THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Yes, the theme for Tigers across the NFL is PAIN. And it's not the good pain either, it's the kind that conveniently leaves you without functioning appendages and makes your team suck. So before we get to previewing which Tigers are still standing (for now) let's take a look at these fallen comrades.
Well it sure would have been fun to see J-Mac put up video game numbers in Chip Kelly's newly installed offense in Philadelphia, but COTG has blessed the current Mizzou football team with health and thus hath taken away the health of those who moved on to greener pastures. Maclin was poised to be a primary piece in Chip Kelly's high flying offense, and now he's going to watch it instead. If you'll recall, he recovered wonderfully from a torn ACL when he was still in college (as Bill so kindly recaps here), so here's to hoping he can do it once again. Get well soon, J-Mac.
The thing that sucks so much about Danario Alexander is that he is an absolute FREAK when he's healthy, but that seems to be somewhat rare for the former Missouri receiver. He was just coming into his own in the NFL this time, and was poised to be San Diego's go-to guy (along with one Antonio Gates, of course). Just watch this AWFUL/AMAZING video some fan made in his tribute, you don't just get one of these unless you start putting up some numbers (or unless you're Blaine Gabbert, as you'll see here in a minute).
Some guys just don't deserve the tough breaks that come their way. Brad Smith is a ridiculously humble, hard working, and overall good person. I met him in the Grindstone Walmart in Columbia my sophomore year when he was back in town for a basketball game. Nobody recognized him (as he later tweeted) because he looked like any other average Joe walking around the produce section in a New York Jets hat, not like a multi-millionaire playing in the largest market in the NFL. I introduced myself to him in incredibly smooth fashion, just saying "You're Brad Smith." He laughed and shook my hand, and we talked for a couple of minutes before he walked off with his bag full of veggies and fruit.
I think that was a pretty solid impression of him, a guy who carries himself the same way everywhere he goes. Unfortunately, his 2013 season was cut short by a rib injury he suffered in the preseason against the Lions, but I expect him to be back in full force in 2014. Also, this injury gives him a little extra time to focus on his TRUE calling: FASHION.
All of these injuries led to an interesting question posed to me from FullbackU on Twitter:
@AdamCribbs question for "Mizzou in the Pros" Do Maclin, Danario, or Brad Smith have enough left to come back to the NFL?
9/1/13 2:58 PM
I'll address Danario first. Personally, I'm afraid this could be the end for him. He suffered a major ACL injury in college, suffered yet another one when he first came into the NFL, and now has a third that has him out the entire season. I just don't know if teams want to keep paying a guy they can't be sure is going to even be on the field for them.
As far as Maclin goes, he has a history of tearing his ACL, but it's never made him miss time in the NFL. He had a big cancer scare recently, which made him miss some games, but it turned out to be okay. I think Maclin has proven himself valuable enough and durable enough to keep a spot on the Eagles.
Brad Smith has been healthy most of his NFL career, and being the wildcard playmaker he is (not to mention the Bills could use all the help they can get), I think Smith is fine too.
So, moving onto the non-depressing part of this article...
Sean WeatherSPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON, Atlanta Falcons
'Spoon has been an absolute beast in his first few season as a Falcon, and shows no sign of slowing down. He's quickly made himself the leader of a pretty good defense, and has recently made an even bigger name for himself when Colin Kaepernick said this:
William Moore, Atlanta Falcons
Willy Mo was a pro bowler last year for the Falcons because he absolutely tore sh*t up. He was a beast for the Falcons defense and is a major reason many people are saying this Falcons team will be good enough to win a Super Bowl. Despite all of his success, he found himself in a little trouble with the law this year, so here's to hoping he can clean his act up and focus on being a badass safety a little more.
One cannot say enough about the impact Justin Smith has on his defense. He's an absolute monster year in and year out and is known for manhandling offensive lineman with regularity. He's the anchor of a pretty incredible defense, and the numbers show it. Aldon Smith was closing in on the regular season sack record, but that came to a screeching halt when Justin missed some games with torn triceps. He'll be back in force again this year, and I for one am always excited to see Godzilla in action.
Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers
ALDON SACKWATCH resumes in 2013 as the 49ers gear up for yet another Superbowl run. Aldon was very close to breaking the single season sack record last season, but finished just short after teammate Justin Smith went down with the aforementioned injury. A guy who was ranked in the top 10 of the best players in the NFL, Aldon will have one mission and one mission only this year: SEND RUSSELL WILSON BACK TO WONKA'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY (or wherever the hell those things were from). Needless to say, Aldon has truly arrived in the NFL.
Mr. Evander Hood has some high expectations upon his shoulders this year, as he enters and extremely important contract year and many fear he hasn't done enough to warrant being re-signed. Ziggy has none of that talk, and he had something to say back to the haterz:
"Any first-round pick is always going to have a microscope on him, whether a wide receiver, a defensive back or an offensive or defensive lineman. You're always going to be the guy they look at extra hard," Hood said.
"I couldn't care less what people think. Until they can put their hands in the dirt and go against me, it's kind of hard to judge another man, especially at that position. I'm getting positive feedback from my coach, [that] is what I need to worry about."
SHELDON RICHARDSON, New York Jets
SHELDON RICHARDSON was drafted in the first round by the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets. Yes, he will get plenty of playing time this season on Rex Ryan's defense, but no I don't expect him to win many games this year (just my humble opinion, you usually need some sort of quarterback to win games). A player many said would make a good fit as a 3-4 DE, SHELDON RICHARDSON will likely contribute to the defense from any and every position along the defensive line. We saw first hand how SHELDON RICHARDSON can single-handedly change a game using his deceptive speed and overpowering strength, so I expect SHELDON RICHARDSON to make a name for himself pretty fast on a team that's already all over ESPN.
Colin Brown, Buffalo Bills
Colin Brown has done nothing but bust his ass and work through injury during his entire NFL career, and it looks like it's coming close to paying off. He could be a starter for the Bills, and it's well deserved. The Bills are a pretty weak team right now, so this is a good chance for him to show something.
Another one of those guys you can't help but root for, Gooden got picked in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Titans of Tennessee. He was drafted mainly because of his athleticism, a guy many felt could even switch positions and become a safety in the NATIONAL-FOOTBALL-LEAGUE. I don't expect him to see much time as a starter right away, but I imagine he'll find himself some playing time. He'd make a fantastic LB for the nickel defense, and he just LOOKS like an NFL player. I mean, check him out when he was in college.
Blaine Gabbert (a REAL American), Jacksonville Jaguars
So he had a good preseason and secured his spot as the starting QB for the Jags this year. So Jones-Drew is back, taking a lot of the pressure off of the young QB. So he has to wear a terrible new uniform this year. So he suffered yet another severely sprained ankle this preseason (not quite reminiscent of 2009 Nebraska). All of this takes a backseat to possibly the greatest, bestest, most awesomest (those aren't words but real words can't do it justice) player tribute video of all time. Also, the addition of Ricky Stanzi as a backup to old Gabby shows that the Jaguars aren't committed to winning, they're committed to AMERICA.
While we're on the topic of quarterbacks, let's talk about Mizzou's most prolific passer of all time. A guy who sat behind Drew Brees for a few season, Chancery McDanielsons (his proper English name) got a shot to be the #2 guy for the Chiefs and possibly #1 in the future. He saw extensive action in the preseason, and actually looked pretty solid, though he has UDFA Tyler Bray nipping at his heels and will have to perform very well to keep the rookie at bay. Personally, I think he should go back to his power diet of backwards hats and booger eatin'.
CJ Mosley is going into a situation where the players above him on the depth chart are extremely talented, as he backs up Ndamakong Suh and Nick Fairley. Just acquired in the offseason Mosley looks to provide solid depth for the Lions after spending a few seasons in Jacksonville. Also, he apologized for previously injuring Matt Stafford, which is awesome.
Andrew Gachkar, San Diego Chargers
Gachkar will likely be a special teams stud again for the Chargers this year, and he has found himself a solid spot on the roster with that role. He was an absolute beast for the Chargers on kickoff and punt teams, becoming a tackling machine and contributing in a way only a true mad man can.
Egnew actually saw some real playing time for Miami toward the end of last season and in this preseason, so with quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading the charge for the revamped Dolphins, we might see some actual production out of the former Mizzou tight end. Here's to hoping he can break the reputation of Mizzou TEs faring poorly in the NFL.
Chase Coffman, Atlanta Falcons
Coffman has actually begun to surface for the Falcons, another team that will likely be mounting a Superbowl run (in competition with the 49ers). Coffman has the unbelievable privilege of learning underneath the greatest TE to ever play the game in Tony Gonzalez, who decided to come back for one more season.
Beau Brinkley, Tennessee Titans
Long snapper extraordinaire. 'nuff said.
(Insert poor man's Wes Welker joke here.) TJ Moe was picked up by the Patriots as an UDFA, and found a way to stick around after training camp. He tore his Achilles in team workouts during the offseason, but apparently made enough of an impression on the coaching staff to find a spot on the team. I'm jealous that he gets to hang around Tom Brady all the time. Also, jealous of his money. I'm sure if he ever becomes a big enough star in the NFL, he'll charm and dazzle his way through interviews just like he did in college, as we all remember here.
Big Dom has moved from DT to DE as an NFL player, and might see the field more than he expected this year. Adam Carriker, the usual starting DE has to undergo surgery and the other player competing for the spot, Jarvis Jenkins, has been suspended 4 games for abusing the NFL substance abuse policy. So it looks like Dom is gonna get his chance to shine, and Mizzou Nation is excited to see him try.
Other Tigers: (free agents)
Tim Barnes (EDIT: Barnes apparently made the final cut and is with the St. Louis Rams. Thanks trent714!)