If you are a Kentucky Wildcats football fan and love watching the NFL, there are plenty of reasons to keep up with more than just your city or hometown team. Kentucky has lately put quite a few players in the NFL who should make a big impact, while also making the Big Blue Nation proud.
Each week we will profile how Wildcats in the NFL do in their respective games and how their personal seasons are progressing. This week's entry, however, will be a preview of each player along with a summary of their numbers from last season.
25 receptions, 375 yards, 1 touchdown
27.7 yard kickoff return average, 1 touchdown
11.3 yard punt return average, 1 touchdown
Randall Cobb came charging out of the gate last year, tying an NFL record in his first game with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
But his fumbling problems and a deep Green Bay Packers receiving corps kept him from seeing the field regularly. While Cobb has hopefully gotten better at holding onto the ball, the Packers are still loaded with talent at wide receiver.
Cobb is currently listed third on the depth chart, but that doesn't mean he won't see much action. In addition to kickoff returns, expect to see him often lined up in the slot position in three and four wide receiver sets and on third down. While Cobb may not be the main man in Green Bay (a job that is tightly held by Donald Driver), a year of experience in the Packers offense should mean more touches for one of the greatest Kentucky Wildcats of all-time.
76 receptions, 1,004 yards, 7 touchdowns
Despite quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's inconsistent performances and weak arm strength, Stevie Johnson has given the Buffalo Bills outstanding production at wide receiver for the last two seasons. Going into his fifth NFL season as an unrestricted free agent, it looked like Johnson may sign with a different team. But the Bills came through with a five-year, $36.5 million dollar deal (via BuffaloBillsdraft.com) to keep their star offensive player.
Unfortunately, the Bills didn't do much else this offseason to improve their offense. This probably means we can expect more of the same solid offensive production from Johnson in 2012, and hopefully less time getting benched for elaborate end zone celebrations.
19 receptions, 177 yards, 1 touchdown
After a successful stint in 2010 filling in for an injured Dallas Clarke, Jacob Tamme made the most of his brief opportunity to play again last year. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Colts offense was nowhere near what it was after losing Peyton Manning for the entire season due to a neck injury.
When the Denver Broncos signed Manning this offseason, they also signed Tamme just three days later. That's a pretty good indication that Manning wanted him there as a familiar target on his new team.
The Broncos also signed Joel Dreessen from the Houston Texans, meaning Tamme won't be the only option at tight end. But going into his fifth NFL season, Tamme will start for the first time in his NFL career with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever throwing in his direction.
26 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown
After spending his first two seasons giving the Atlanta Falcons solid production on the defensive line, Corey Peters looked to be a big part of an improved Atlanta defense in 2012. Unfortunately, he has been placed on injured reserve for the first six games of the season (via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com) due to a foot injury.
Hopefully, Peters can recover and get his starting position back as the Falcons look for their elusive first playoff win since 2004.
3.4 yards per carry, 1 touchdown
His stats may not show it, but John Conner had a solid second season blocking for the stable of New York Jets running backs. There was speculation that Conner's roster spot for this season might get terminated (via Brian Costello of the NY Post), but it looks safe to say when the Jets begin their season at home against the Buffalo Bills, he'll be back.
45.6 yard punting average
23 of 55 punts inside 20-yard line
The Green Bay Packers may not have to punt very much, but when they do, Tim Masthay almost always assures the Packers will win the field position battle. Expect more of the same in 2012 from the Ginger with the Golden Boot.
97 tackles, 3 forced fumbles
As one of Tim Tebow's 52 Denver Broncos' disciples in 2011, Wesley Woodyard was a key part of a defense that helped Denver with its fourth-quarter magic.
With Tebow gone and Peyton Manning in, it looks like the Broncos will still make a return trip to the playoffs. Woodyard has an early chance to make a big impact due to Denver's starting middle linebacker D.J. Williams being suspended the first six games of the season after testing positive for steroids (via Mike Florio of NBC Sports).
Woodyard, who has already produced well for the Broncos in his previous four seasons, will get a chance to take over the key starting position and really show what he can do.
2 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Myron Pryor looked to have a great 2011 season with the New England Patriots until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 2. The injury itself turned out to be a torn pectoral muscle (via the Boston Herald). At this point, he is still recovering and was unable to do much work during the offseason.
The Patriots, who were very pleased with his play before the injury, hope to have Pryor fully healthy and back in action by Week 7.
Despite being on injured reserved for all of the 2011 season, the Carolina Panthers signed Garry Williams to a two-year contract extension (via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN). Now that he's healthy, look for Williams to be a big part of the Panthers' offensive line that will help protect dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton.
After a stellar career at the University of Kentucky, Danny Trevathan joins Wesley Woodyard on the Denver Broncos that will most likely be a Super Bowl contender out of the AFC.
The suspension to D.J Williams, along with a very solid preseason should mean that that one of the Wildcats' best linebackers should see plenty of playing time in his first NFL season.
Winston Guy finished his career at Kentucky with an excellent senior season. That success carried over to his first NFL season with the Seattle Seahawks, where head coach Pete Carroll has been very impressed by what he's seen (via Danny O'Neil of The Seattle Times).
Look for Guy to see the field quite a bit as a rookie in Seattle's often used defense packages that utilize six defensive backs.
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