Howdy, Tiger fans. Welcome to my weekly look at how the players we loved watching suit up for Mizzou for four years (or three years) (or sometimes just two years) are getting along as professional athletes.
The Missouri Tigers program has placed 22 different players on NFL rosters for the start of the 2015 season, and 2 more earning a taste of the league by residing on teams' practice squads. This week, we'll be looking briefly at everyone on the list, to get a sense of where they stand.
Injuries, Self-Inficted and Otherwise
Zaviar Gooden was just released with an injury settlement by the Tennessee Titans after being placed on IR due to a hamstring injury he suffered during preseason play. This move will give Gooden the opportunity to latch on to another team this season once he is healed up.
Ziggy Hood was placed on IR by the Jacksonville Jaguars but remains under contract with the team.
E.J. Gaines' Lisfranc injury unfortunately ended his season before it started. Gaines was expected to be an important part of the St. Louis Rams' secondary this season after a quality rookie year in 2014.
Sheldon Richardson [commentary redacted] and is on a suspension from his normal job with the New York Jets.
Waiting Their Turns
Mizzou has placed a number of players into the league who are currently in backup roles. In a league with the injury frequency of the NFL, there is a good chance some of these players have their time in the spotlight at some point during the season.
At the rock star quarterback position, Chase Daniel remains the backup for the Kansas City Chiefs' Alex Smith while former first-rounder Blaine Gabbert is behind Colin Kaepernick on the San Francisco 49ers' depth chart.
Andrew Gachkar is a backup MLB for the Dallas Cowboys this season, providing most of his value on special teams, where he played 24 of his 25 snaps in the Cowboys come from behind victory on Sunday night.
Mizzou's desert duo of Markus Golden and Sean Weatherspoon both played backup roles in the Arizona Cardinals' victory over New Orleans. Golden played 17 snaps in his rookie debut and Weatherspoon managed 12 as he works back from nagging offseason injuries. Golden shared his reflections on week 1 with Arizona Sports.
All-time single-season Mizzou sack record holder Shane Ray played behind the likes of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware but managed to help put pressure on Joe Flacco in the Bronco's opening week victory.
C.J. Mosley recorded a tackle during his 14 snaps for the Miami Dolphins.
Chase Coffman bounced on and off of Tennessee's roster over the last week or two but managed to be on it for the start of week 1. However, he was inactive on game day.
Marcus Lucas (Carolina) and Henry Josey (Jacksonville) are working on their teams' respective practice squads. Players on the practice squad can be signed by any team at any time but must be put on the active roster the week after being signed. Meanwhile, they will continue to make money for being football players, which is pretty great.
A number of Mizzou products are playing important part-time roles or specialty positions for NFL teams this season.
Rookie Marcus Murphy turned his seventh-round draft position into a starting gig as the punt returner for the New Orleans Saints. He had one return opportunity on Sunday, gaining 2 yards. There have been whispers about him playing in the backfield with Brees and company, but that has not materialized just yet.
Long-snapper Beau Brinkley -- the longest serving Missouri Tiger product in the league -- continued in his position with the Tennessee Titans. And while long-snappers tend to get noticed only when they do something wrong, at least one fan had a pretty amusing encounter with Brinkley on his way to finding Marcus Mariota:
The tall white guy and his better half, who watched all of that? "You have a flight to catch, don't you, babe?" the tall man said, and she agreed, taking off towards the exit. That's when the man looked towards the guard and said, "He can come on the field with me." Then he turned towards me, saying, "Just say you're with me." Onto the practice field he walked, and there I awkwardly followed him. We talked a bit, and I asked for his name. "Beau Brinkley", he said, and that's when I got excited. "You're our longsnapper! Man, Madden gives you no love." He was both surprised that his name had been recognized, and amused by my Madden comment. He laughed and replied about how the longsnappers in the NFL get no respect, but it's actually a really difficult job. That's when I brought up MCM, directly by name, and asked if the players ever read that blog. He didn't laugh at that, and just said very seriously, "Yeah. The guys on there are ruthless." I agreed. "They don't know what they're really talking about half the time." he added, then going on a bit of a rant about how fans act like they know things that they'd only know by being in the locker room with 'us'. I nodded again.
Aldon Smith, recently given an Xth chance by the Oakland Raiders, suited up for 29 snaps in a futile effort against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He recorded 1 solo tackle and 1 assist. Smith and Oakland await potential punishment for his off-field issues that led to his release from San Francisco in the offseason.
Jacquies Smith, meanwhile, continued in his role as a part-time pass rusher for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And he managed to record 2 tackles and a sack.
Kony Ealy, in his second season with the Carolina Panthers, has been thrust into a more important role due to injuries on the DL. While Ealy recorded no traditional stats in week 1, his coach Ron Rivera said that Ealy "did the dirty work".
"It's not going to reflect in the final stats, but when you go back and look at the plays he allowed to happen by his teammates, those are things you get excited about,'' coach Ron Rivera told ESPN.
The St. Louis Rams put Tim Barnes in as their starting center, and although there was a miscommunication issue on Barnes' part that led to a fumble, his performance was otherwise not noteworthy, which is not a bad thing for a center.
Filling out the state of Missouri's all-Mizzou starting centers corps was Chiefs' rookie Mitch Morse, who not only took the helm, but received accolades for doing so.
Another newcomer to the Chiefs this season was heralded wide receiver and all-around speedy fellow Jeremy Maclin, who was welcomed with wide open arms as the replacement for Dwayne Bowe. In his Chiefs' debut, Maclin managed to snag 5 catches (in 9 targets) for 52 yards, which netted yours truly 5.2 points in my week 1 victory in the RockMNation fantasy football league.
The defending near-champion Seattle Seahawks opened their 2015 season with a disappointing loss, but Justin Britt started and played every offensive snap for the team once again. He has shifted to LG after being at tackle last season. Post-game reports revealed little about Britt's performance.
Finally, William "Pig Brown" Moore (that's his nickname in my house...deal with it) returned to action for the Atlanta Falcons after missing the 2014 season with a shoulder injury. He snagged himself 9 tackles and an interception - the 15th of his career. Welcome back, Willy Mo!
If you have any links or news about these players, feel free to place them in the links. And berate me for missing them! I hope you'll come back each week for updates on these players and any new information on your Tiger favorites who have graduated to the league.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Tomorrow is <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedThursday?src=hash">#RedThursday</a> for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KC?src=hash">#KC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/chiefs">@Chiefs</a>! Good luck to all of our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MizzouMade?src=hash">#MizzouMade</a> players! GP <a href="https://t.co/dTjKzTeWrw">https://t.co/dTjKzTeWrw</a></p>— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) <a href="https://twitter.com/GaryPinkel/status/644179831710547972">September 16, 2015</a></blockquote>
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