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Miami Hurricanes Football: Creating a 53-Man All-Time NFL Roster of Former Canes

Scott MillardCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2011

Miami Hurricanes Football: Creating a 53-Man All-Time NFL Roster of Former Canes

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    In recent years, many people have given the University if Miami the nickname "NFL U," which many see as a fitting name for the school, as over the last 30 years or so, they have not just been amongst the top schools in the nation in sending players to the NFL, but they've also had those players regularly develop into top-tier talent in the pros.

    This past season alone, the Hurricanes sent 10 players to the Pro Bowl, six of whom were starters. Last year, 12 players were elected, an all-time record for a school sending players to a single Pro Bowl.

    But there was also plenty of talent coming out of The U before this current batch of stars. The Hurricanes have been sending players to the Pro Bowl since DL Bob Masterson was elected in 1942.

    With all that in mind, let's take a look at the former Hurricanes who have had the most success in the NFL.

    But instead of just doing a top 50 or something, this is going to be a full 53-man roster, something that is nearly impossible to do with the vast majority of college football teams but can be accomplished with the Hurricanes, despite their relatively short history compared to other elite college teams.

    So let's get started by looking at the QBs who came out of Miami to make a name for themselves.

Starting QB: Jim Kelly

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    Teams Played For: Buffalo Bills (1986-1996)

    Accolades:

    Four Pro Bowl Selections

    Three All-Pro Selection (one First Team, two Second Team)

    Four Super Bowl Appearances

    2002 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee (first year of eligibility)

    No. 12 Jersey retired by Buffalo Bills

     

    We start off with one of the four former Hurricanes that are currently enshrined in Canton: former Bills QB Jim Kelly.

    Ironically, he was by far the greatest and most successful NFL QB to come out of Miami, but he was not the best Canes QB ever (at least Kosar, Testeverde, Torretta, and Dorsey were better during their college days).

    However, his stats and accomplishments in the pros must be respected. Despite only playing in the pros for 11 years, he is the Bills' all-time passing leader with 35,467 yards and 237 TDs.

    He got the rare distinction of getting inducted to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and is the only player in Bills history to have his number retired by the team.

    Most people will remember him as the QB of the team that lost four straight Super Bowls, but many prefer to see him as the only QB to ever help send his team to four straight Big Games (though injuries limited him during the lead up to Super Bowl 27).

    And if it weren't for the infamous "Wide Right" field goal by Scott Norwood, Kelly may very well have had the Super Bowl ring he deserved.

First Backup QB: Vinny Testaverde

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    Teams Played For: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-1992), Cleveland Browns (1993-1995), Baltimore Ravens (1996-1997), New York Jets (1998-2003, 2005), Dallas Cowboys (2004), New England Patriots (2006), Carolina Panthers (2007)

    Accolades:

    Two Pro Bowl Selections

    One All-Pro Selection

     

    A guy who was simultaneously a journey man AND an iron man, Vinny Testaverde enjoyed one of the longest careers of any QB in NFL history. He played for 21 years (by comparison, Favre has only played for 20) and retired at the ripe old age of 44.

    Despite being a guy who never stayed in any one city for longer than six consecutive years, Testaverde was actually pretty good, as evident by his two Pro Bowl selections. He passed for 46,233 yards, seventh all time among NFL QBs, and 275 TDs, which is good for eighth all time.

    Of course, a lot of that can be chalked up to playing for over two decades; hence why I don't put him over Kelly.

    He also did not have the postseason accolades that Kelly possessed. He made it to two AFC title games, but never a Super Bowl, and one of those two appearances was as a backup with the 2006 Patriots.

    But for a guy who never played in a Super Bowl and never spent more than six years with any single team, he had a pretty solid career.

Second Backup QB: Bernie Kosar

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    Teams Played For: Cleveland Browns (1985-1993), Dallas Cowboys (1993), Miami Dolphins (1994-1996)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

    One All-Pro Selection

    One-Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 27- Backup)

     

    It may be the bias in me, but I think Kosar was one of the most under-respected QBs in NFL history. He was within an arm's reach of taking the Browns to the Super Bowl. Twice. Let that sink in for a moment.

    Unfortunately, he lost to Elway's Broncos in both of his trips to the AFC Title Game, both times in infamous fashion (the first time involved The Drive, the second time involved The Fumble, neither of which can be pinned on Kosar).

    He made one Pro Bowl in his career, but I'm sure he'd give that up to take either of those moments out of the record books.

    He finished his career with a respectable 23,301 yards and 124 TDs and remains a fan favorite to this day amongst both Hurricanes fans AND Browns fans.

Starting RB: Edgerrin James

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    Teams Played For: Indianapolis Colts (1999-2005), Arizona Cardinals (2006-2008), Seattle Seahawks (2009)

    Accolades:

    Four Pro Bowl Selections

    Three All-Pro Selections (two First Team, one Second Team)

    One Super Bowl Appearance

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

     

    Technically, Edgerrin James is still in the league but has not been with a team since leaving the Seahawks after 2009, so for all intents and purposes, he's retired.

    This guy could simultaneously be not only the best NFL running back to come out of Miami, but also the best RB ever during his time at Miami, being the only Canes RB to ever rush for 1000-plus yards in two separate seasons.

    James, the cousin of current Colts RB and former Cane Javarris James, currently ranks 11th all-time on the NFL career rushing list at 12,246 yards and is No. 1 all time among Colts RBs. He was a vital part of the Colts in the early 2000s, a rare sight for any Colt not named Peyton Manning.

    His efforts were never rewarded with a Super Bowl trip during his time in Indy, but he did help his next team, the Cardinals, make it to Super Bowl 43, where they lost a nail-biter to the Steelers.

    I fully expect him to eventually have his name enshrined in Canton, which would make him the first Hurricanes RB to be inducted.

First Backup RB: Ottis Anderson

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    Teams Played For: St. Louis Cardinals (1979-1986), New York Giants (1986-1992)

    Accolades:

    Two Pro Bowl Selections

    Two All-Pro Selections (one First Team, one Second Team)

    1979 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

    1989 NFL Comeback Player of the Year

    Two Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowls 21 and 25)

    One Time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (Super Bowl 25)

     

    Ottis Anderson is another player who I feel doesn't get quite as much respect as he deserves. He currently ranks 24th all-time on the NFL career rushing yards list at 10,273 yards.

    He won two Super Bowls with the Giants and was the MVP in one of them. He was the top offensive rookie in his first season (part of a trend of Canes RBs winning ROY as you will soon see).

    After a solid career in St. Louis with the Cardinals (before they moved to Arizona), he went to the Giants and just exploded, being one of the big reasons why they currently have three Super Bowl rings instead of one.

    By the way, his Super Bowl MVP came in Super Bowl 25, which means he won that at the expense of giving Jim Kelly his first Super Bowl ring.

Second Backup RB: Clinton Portis

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    Teams Played For: Denver Broncos (2002-2003), Washington Redskins (2004-2010)

    Accolades:

    Two Pro Bowl Selections

    One All-Pro Selection (Second Team)

    2002 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    One of the many players on this list to have played for the Canes between 2000 and 2002, Clinton Portis is, by all means, one of the best RBs in the NFL when healthy.

    He currently sits 77 yards shy of hitting the 10,000-yard career mark. He surpassed 1,500 yards in his first two seasons in the league and nearly hit it again in 2008.

    His rookie season was amongst the greatest rookie seasons by any player in NFL history regardless of position.

    And yet, ever since moving to Washington, injuries have caused his production to drop, particular these last two seasons. As a result of his injuries, he was released by the Redskins at the end of last season.

    As one of the top free agent RBs, it's highly likely he'll find himself on a new team in 2011 (if there's a season), with many people talking about the Patriots as a possible destination, which would potentially mean he could win a Super Bowl ring in the future.

Third Backup RB: Frank Gore

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    Teams Played For: San Francisco 49ers (2005-Present)

    Accolades:

    Two Pro Bowl Selections

    One All-Pro Selection (Second Team)


    The lack of accomplishments can be chalked up to youth; Frank Gore is only entering his seventh season in the league, and remains arguably one of the top 10 RBs in the NFL.

    He is currently averaging 1,069 yards per season, putting him on pace for about 12,800 yards if he plays for 12 seasons, which would put him eighth all time.

    He has had a bit of an issue with scoring TDs, only averaging about 6 per season, but with the 49ers either going with the mediocre Alex Smith or the rookie Colin Kaepernick at QB next season, we can expect that pace to increase as he likely gets more carries.

    Out of the former Hurricane RBs currently in the NFL (with the exception of Edgerrin James, who's pretty much in limbo), Gore has the best chance to make the Hall of Fame.

Starting FB: Chuck Foreman

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    Teams Played For: Minnesota Vikings (1973-1979), New England Patriots (1980)

    Accolades:

    Five Pro Bowl Selections

    Four All-Pro Selections

    1973 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

    Three Super Bowl Appearances

     

    Chuck Foreman's 1975 season was one of the best seasons by a RB that nobody ever talks about. He tied the then-NFL record for TDs in the season with 22, but less than a minute later, in the same game, OJ Simpson got his 23rd TD of the season, denying Foreman a share of the record (Sayers also had 22 a few seasons earlier).

    He also lost out on his conference rushing title for the season when Jim Otis eclipsed his 1,070 the next day.

    Despite being very unlucky, Foreman was a VERY good FB, going to five Pro Bowls in his short tenure in the league. He set an NFL record with 73 receptions, the most by a RB at the time.

    He helped the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances, but never win a single ring. He may never make the Hall of Fame, but he was definitely one of the MVPs of the Minnesota Vikings during his seven-year stint there.

First Backup FB: Don Bosseler

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    Teams Played For: Washington Redskins (1957-1964)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

     

    Another FB who had a relatively short career, Don Bosseler was a monster at UM, eventually being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

    Admittedly, his career in the pros wasn't overly fruitful, but you'll see later, some positions aren't as solid as others, so I may make a few stretch picks to account for lack of depth at other positions.

    His career wasn't too bad, though. He did live up to his first-round selection, going to a Pro Bowl and eventually being voted as one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all time.

    Though he never won any championships, he did follow up his great college career with a solid pro career.

First Starting WR: Michael Irvin

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    Teams Played For: Dallas Cowboys (1988-1999)

    Accolades:

    Five Pro Bowl Selections

    Three All-Pro Selections (one First Team, two Second Team)

    1992 Pro Bowl MVP

    Three-Time Super Bowl Champion

    NFL 1990s All-Decade Team

    2007 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee

     

    This guy embodies the swagger that made up the Hurricanes of the 1980s and early 1990s. Not only was he loud, outspoken and borderline insane, but he backed it all up with crazy good on-field performances.

    Though his career was cut short by a severe concussion (one that was cheered by Eagles fans at the game), he still marked his places as one of the greatest WRs in NFL history.

    In his 12-year career, he caught 750 passes for just under 12,000 yards and 65 TDs. 

    He was one of the members of the Big Three Cowboys offensive players (with Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith) that helped turn the Cowboys into the team of the 1990s, winning three Super Bowls (two of them against Kelly's Bills).

    He was definitely the most outspoken of the three and to this day remains one of the most outspoken Canes fans, something no Canes fan will argue against.

Second Starting WR: Andre Johnson

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    Teams Played For: Houston Texans (2003-Present)

    Accolades:

    Five Pro Bowl Selections

    Four All Pro Selections (three First Team, one Second Team)

     

    When all's said and done, Andre Johnson may very well eclipse Irvin as the greatest NFL receiver to come out of The U, but it's hard to say for sure right now when there's still possible another five years or so left in his career.

    Andre Johnson is pretty much the consensus No. 1 WR in the NFL at the moment, and it's hard to argue with that. In eight seasons, he's caught for over 9,000 yards and 50 TDs. At his current pace, he may very well eclipse TO for second all time on the career receiving yards list.

    This is all despite the very rocky QB play that had plagued the Texans up until just a couple years ago. He made two Pro Bowls with David Carr throwing to him, which is quite an impressive feat. Now with the solid Matt Schaub at QB, he's made the Pro Bowl each of his last three years.

    He is possibly the only guy on this list to have never made the playoffs, but I fully expect that to change in the next few years. He is too good to go his entire career without even a playoff appearance.

First Backup WR: Reggie Wayne

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    Teams Played For: Indianapolis Colts (2001-Present)

    Accolades:

    Five Pro Bowl Selections

    Three All-Pro Selections (one First Team, two Second Teams)

    One Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 41)

     

    Miami has been quite the pro factory for WRs in the last decade apparently. Reggie Wayne was lucky enough to be drafted by the most pass-friendly offense in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts.

    He spent his first half-decade or so playing as the No. 2 receiver behind Marvin Harrison but is now indisputably the top receiver on the team.

    Reggie Wayne is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, his stats eerily similar to Harrison's at this point in the latter's career. He has made each of the last five Pro Bowls, showing remarkable consistency.

    He helped lead the team to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them. He also has not missed a start since 2002, being one of the few players on the team that hasn't been injured in recent years.

    In 10 years, he has already surpassed the 10,000-yard mark, and as long as Peyton Manning is throwing to him, he could threaten to become one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history.

Second Backup WR: Santana Moss

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    Teams Played For: New York Jets (2001-2004), Washington Redskins (2005-Present)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

    One All-Pro Selection (Second Team)

     

    Don't let the one lonely Pro Bowl selection fool you, Santana Moss has been consistently solid throughout his entire career. The third WR on the list that played for the Canes in 2000 is just one or two seasons away from surpassing 10,000 yards in his career.

    He has had four 1,000-yard seasons and only one sub-800-yard season since becoming a full-time starter in 2003, when he still had 790 yards. Injuries limited him early in his career, but he hasn't missed a game in the last three seasons.

    Like Clinton Portis, he hasn't quite achieved his full potential in the time he's been in Washington. Whether it's the revolving door of coaches and coordinators or if its front office problems or if its the players themselves is unclear, but if he could get a good QB, he could become a really scary WR.

    But for now, he's expected to become a mentor for rookie former Canes wideout Leonard Hankerson, who should start opposite him this season.

Third Backup WR: Eddie Brown

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    Teams Played For: Cincinnati Bengals (1985-1991)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

    1985 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

     

    Eddie Brown quietly had one of the most prolific careers in Bengals history, finishing his relatively short career with 6,134 yards and 41 TDs, both top-five amongst all-time Bengals WRs.

    He set a team record in 1988 with 1,273 yards, a mark later surpassed only by Chad Johnson in 2003.

    He also currently holds the all-time NFL single season mark for YPC by receivers with 50-plus catches at a whopping 24. He was elected to his only Pro Bowl berth that season.

Starting TE: Jeremy Shockey

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    Teams Played For: New York Giants (2002-2007), New Orleans Saints (2008-2010), Carolina Panthers (2011-Present)

    Accolades:

    Four Pro Bowl Selections

    One All-Pro Selection

    Two-Time Super Bowl Champion

     

    Jeremy Shockey has not had an amazing career, but he's still been good enough to get the No. 1 spot on this list for TEs. Shockey came smashing out of the gate in 2002, earning the rare distinction of being a rookie elected to the Pro Bowl.

    Over his six years in New York, he made all four of his Pro Bowls. He helped the Giants reach the playoffs in 2007 but missed out on the historic playoff run after an injury in Week 15 sidelined him for the rest of the year.

    Since going to Carolina, he was decent but never as good as he was in New York. He was signed by Carolina in one of the few offseason moves before the lockout began this year.

    But before he left, he ensured the Saints would have a great TE for years to come by convincing the front office to select Canes TE Jimmy Graham and mentoring him. I fully expect Graham to be on one of these lists by the time his career is done.

First Backup TE: Bubba Franks

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    Teams Played For: Green Bay Packers (2000-2007), New York Jets (2008)

    Accolades:

    Three Pro Bowl Selections

     

    In a day and age where you cannot be a TE without being able to catch the ball consistently, Bubba Franks was consistently a solid TE despite being more of a blocker, averaging only about 29 catches per season.

    He helped the Packers become one of the most consistently good teams in the league in the early 2000s, going to three Pro Bowls in the process.

    In 2008, he came to the Jets with Brett Favre, but only played backup behind Dustin Keller. He retired after the season, winding down a pretty solid career for a TE not known for catching the ball consistently.

Second Backup TE: Kellen Winslow II

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    Teams Played For: Cleveland Browns (2004-2008), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-Present)

    Accolades:

    Two Pro Bowl Selections

     

    As opposed to the more blocking-oriented Bubba Franks, Kellen Winslow is far more of a receiving threat, averaging close to 52 receptions and 600 yards per season and has caught over 70 receptions per season since coming to Tampa Bay two seasons ago.

    As one of Josh Freeman's favorite targets, it's expected that as Freeman continues to develop, possibly into a top 10 QB, Winslow's production will go up, and he'll find himself in more and more Pro Bowls.

First Starting OT: Bryant McKinnie

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    Teams Played For: Minnesota Vikings (2002-Present)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

     

    Bryant McKinnie has one of the biggest workloads in the NFL. He is the primary blocker for RB Adrian Peterson.

    Despite this pressure, McKinnie has been one of the most consistent blockers in the league over his career, playing in 129 games and starting all but one.

    He made his Pro Bowl in probably the most pressure-packed season of his career, 2009, when not only did he have to block for Peterson, but he had to protect the blindside of one Brett Favre, a job he performed admirably as Favre lit up the NFC en route to nearly making it to the Super Bowl.

    Despite only making one Pro Bowl in nine years, I expect that he'll make more in the near future, as he is one of the better OTs in the league.

Second Starting OT: Leon Searcy

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    Teams Played For: Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-1995), Jacksonville Jaguars (1996-2000), Baltimore Ravens (2001), Miami Dolphins (2002)

    Accolades:

    One Pro Bowl Selection

    One Super Bowl Appearance

     

    It's been a while since we've had a real journeyman, but that's what Leon Searcy was.

    Despite being a pretty good OT, starting all but one game from 1992-1999, even making a Pro Bowl in 1999, he never stayed with any single team longer than five years.

    In his last season in Pittsburgh he helped lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Cowboys.

First Backup OT: Eric Winston

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    Teams Played For: Houston Texans (2006-Present)

    Accolades: None

     

    This is really making a reach, but the Hurricanes just haven't sent many good OTs to the NFL.

    Winston is probably the best out of the ones who haven't made any Pro Bowls. He's only been in the league for five years, but he's played in all but four games and started all but nine, so he's at least been a consistent force on the Texans' O-line.

    Maybe now that Houston has found a great RB in Arian Foster, Winston will start to get more attention.

First Starting OG: Dennis Harrah

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    Teams Played For: Los Angeles Rams (1975-1987)

    Accolades:

    Six Pro Bowl Selections

    One Super Bowl Appearance

     

    I gotta be honest, I've never heard of this guy until I did this article, but he actually had a really good career.

    In 13 years with the Rams, he started 12 years, with his rookie year being the one exception. He made six Pro Bowls and was a team captain for six years.

    1980 was probably his best year, as the Rams led the league in both total yards gained and rushing yards partly thanks to him, and he was awarded a Pro Bowl berth as a result.

Secod Starting OG: Vernon Carey

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    Teams Played For: Miami Dolphins (2004-Present)

    Accolades: None

     

    As you can see, I'm already making reaches here, as Harrah is honestly the only guard the Hurricanes have sent to the NFL that made any Pro Bowls.

    Carey, however, has still been a pretty consistent force on the Dolphins' O-line since taking over as starter, making 80 starts in his time on the team and helping turn the wildcat offense into a force to be reckoned with (at least for one season).

First Backup OG: Mark Cooper

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    Teams Played For: Denver Broncos (1983-1987), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-1989)

    Accolades:

    One Super Bowl Appearance

     

    This is probably even more of a reach than Carey. He was a rather unremarkable guard during his seven-year career.

    But I put him on this list because he helped lead the Broncos to Super Bowl 21. They didn't win, but that's gotta account for something, right? Right?

Starting C: Jim Otto

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    Teams Played For: Oakland Raiders (1960-1974)

    Accolades:

    Three Pro Bowl Selections

    Three All-Pro Selections

    Ten All-AFL Selections

    Ten AFL All-Star Selections

    One Time AFL Champion

    One Super Bowl Appearance

    1980 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee (first year of eligibility)

     

    By a mile, the best offensive lineman to ever come out of Miami, Jim Otto was arguably the best center to play in the old AFL, making the All-AFL team every year in the 1960s.

    He only made three Pro Bowls, but that's because he wasnt even eligible to make the Pro Bowl until the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Based on the fact that he made the next three Pro Bowls, it's safe to say that if he had been in the NFL all along, he could've made 13 Pro Bowls.

    As the starting center for the Raiders, he played through the entire 1960s and early '70s for the team, helping lead them to an AFL title and a trip to Super Bowl 2 in 1967, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

    Following his retirement, he got inducted to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, this proving that even before the days of Howard Schnellenberger, Miami was still sending some top tier talent to the pros.

1st Back-Up C: Brett Romberg

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    Teams Played For: Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-2005), St. Louis Rams (2006-2008), Atlanta Falcons (2009-2010)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    Another position with pretty much no depth is center, and that is painfully obvious here, as the next best center after Jim Otto is a guy who, despite being in the league for 8 years, has only started 19 games. I at least gave him the benefit of the doubt because, despite making so few appearance, he must be doing something right to have teams keep signing him.

1st Starting DE: Eddie Edwards

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    Teams Played For: Cincinnati Bengals (1977-1988)

     

    Accolades:

    1 Pro Bowl Selection

    2 Super Bowl Appearances

     

    Eddie Edwards was a solid defensive end for the Bengals throughout his 12 year career in Cincinatti. He only made one Pro Bowl, but he set the franchise mark for career stats with 83.5. He also recovered 17 fumbles and even managed to record an interception. He helped lead the Bengals to two Super Bowl appearances, where they lost to the 49ers both times.

     

    In case you were curious, this isn't a very deep position either. Not saying that Edwards was bad, but he's still the best the Canes have.

2nd Starting DE: Mike Barnes

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Colts (1973-1981)

     

    Accolades:

    1 Pro Bowl Selection

     

    It's hard to really find any good statistics for Mike Barnes, because he played in an era before sacks were a statistic. However, he was still a consistently good DE for the Colts back when they played in Baltimore, starting all but one game between 1975 and 1980. And, well, that's all I really have on him.

1st Back-Up DE: Calais Campbell

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    Teams Played For: Arizona Cardinals (2008-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    That's how thin of talent this position is: a guy who's been in the league for 3 years and hasn't made a Pro Bowl is the #3 guy all-time. Don't worry, the next position will be a little more interesting.

     

    That said, though, Campbell has not been bad at DE these three years. He only has 13 sacks, but he's been better at tackling, recording 136 tackles, a solid 3 year span for a DE. That's pretty much the only reason he's here. One more guy, okay?

2nd Back-Up DE: Bill Hawkins

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    Teams Played For: Los Angeles Rams (1989-1992)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    Um...well he made the 1989 All-Rookie team. That's pretty nice, right?

     

    ...Let's move on, shall we?

1st Starting DT: Warren Sapp

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    Teams Played For: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1995-2003), Oakland Raiders (2004-2007)

     

    Accolades:

    7 Pro Bowl Selections

    6 All-Pro Selections (4 First Team, 2 Second Team)

    1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 37)

    NFL 1990s All-Decade Team

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

     

    No, that is not a typo. Warren Sapp was so good for long he made TWO different All-Decade teams. After two ho-hum years to start his career, Sapp made the Pro Bowl every single season since in which he was in Tampa Bay. He averaged 48 tackles and 7 sacks per season, a fantastic amount for a DT.

     

    This future Hall of Famer (likely first ballot) was one of the keystones of Tampa Bay's historic defense in 2002 en route to Super Bowl 37, where they embarrassed the Oakland Raiders and league MVP Rich Gannon. His swagger got him in trouble many times throughout his career, but nobody believes he's anything other than one of the greatest DTs of all time.

     

    Today you can watch him on the NFL Network having good laughs with Michael Irvin. He remains one of the most popular Canes of all time, as evident by a Canes basketball game I went to this year that Sapp where he seemed to be a bigger attraction than the game itself.

2nd Starting DT: Cortez Kennedy

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    Teams Played For: Seattle Seahawks (1990-2000)

     

    Accolades:

    8 Pro Bowl Selections

    4 All-Pro Selections (3 First Team, 1 Second Team)

    1992 Defensive Player of the Year

    NFL 1990s All-Decade Team

    SI's Best Player to Ever Wear the Number 96

     

    How this guy has managed to avoid being elected to the Hall of Fame so far eludes me. He was an absolute monster for his 11 years in Seattle, being voted the top DT on the all 1990s team. He won DPotY in 1992 despite the Seahawks going 2-14. THAT'S how dominant he was.

     

    There were only three years he didn't make the Pro Bowl: his rookie season, his final season, and one season in the middle (1997). He never managed to lead the Seahawks to any postseason success, but I will eat my hat if this guy is not elected to the Hall of Fame in the next few years. Maybe they can elect him in 2013, the same year Warren Sapp will likely get elected.

1st Back-Up DT: Vince Wilfork

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    Teams Played For: New England Patriots (2004-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    3 Pro Bowl Selections

    3 All Pro Selections (All Second Teams)

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 39)

     

    You can make an argument that Vince Wilfork is the best DT currently playing in the NFL. He has been absolutely dominant over the last 4 years, making the Pro Bowl in three of those years. In his rookie season he played a big role in solidyfing the Patriots as the dynasty of the 2000s by helping them win Super Bowl 39. Since then he has been a staple of the Pats 4-3 defense.

     

    His real break out year was 2007, being one of the key pieces of the defense that helped lead the Patriots to a 16-0 record. Since then he has consistently been one of, if not THE most dominant DT in the league. I expect him to someday become the third Hurricane DT inducted to the Hall of Fame, after Sapp and Kennedy get in.

     

    The DT position may be the deepest position in the NFL historically for former Hurricanes.

2nd Back-Up DT: Jerome Brown

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    Teams Played For: Philadelphia Eagles (1987-1991)

     

    Accolades:

    2 Pro Bowl Selections

    2 All-Pro Selections

    #99 Jersey retired by Philadelphia Eagles

     

    Could you imagine what the NFL in the mid-late 90s would've been like if Jerome Brown hadn't tragically died in a car accident in 1992? Between him, Sapp, and Kennedy, the Hurricanes could've had a stranglehold on the top 3 DT spots in the NFL. He was a bright young star who was a monster DT for the Eagles in his short career, making 2 Pro Bowls and recording 30 sacks and 3 picks.

     

    Nearly 20 years after his death, he remains a fan favorite amongst Eagles and Hurricanes fans. Though he only played for 5 years, his impact will be forever remembered by both fan bases.

1st Starting OLB: Ted Hendricks

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Colts (1969-1973), Green Bay Packers (1974), Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1975-1983)

     

    Accolades:

    8 Pro Bowl Selections

    9 All Pro Selections (4 First Team, 5 Second Team)

    3 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowls 11, 15, 18)

    NFL 1970s All Decade Team

    NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

    1990 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee

     

    You wanna know how you can tell you're a really good linebacker? When the college award presented to the best LB in the nation is named after you.

     

    There's not much that needs to be said about Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks. One of the best LBs to ever player, both in college and in the pros. A proven winner with 3 Super Bowl rings. The only Hurricane present on the 75th anniversary NFL All-Time team, behind just Dick Butkus and Jack Ham. Hall of Famer at both levels of play, college and pros. He's consistently on lists of the top 100 players of all time. He never missed a single game in his entire career.

    My only question is this: How on earth did he not get elected to the HoF in his 1st year of eligibility?

2nd Starting OLB: Jessie Armstead

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    Teams Played For: New York Giants (1993-2001), Washington Redskins (2002-2003), Carolina Panthers (2004), New York Giants (2007)

     

    Accolades:

    5 Pro Bowl Selections

    4 All-Pro Selections

     

    Jessie Armstead was a very good LB as well. He was a monster during the second half of his first tenure with the Giants (his second tenure, in 2007, was for one day so he could retire as a Giant). During his last five years in New York, he made the Pro Bowl every year, and was named All-Pro all but once.

     

    He's probably wishing that one day contract was a one year contract, because it would've given him a Super Bowl ring that he deserved for his top tier play with the Giants in the last 90s. It would've also likely pushed him over 1000 tackles, as he retired with 991, as well as 40 sacks and 12 picks, some great stats for a LB. He may not see the Hall of Fame, but he's definitely got a spot in the Hall of Very Good.

1st Back-Up OLB: D.J. Williams

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    Teams Played For: Denver Broncos (1994-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    D.J. Williams may have never made a Pro Bowl or been named an All-Pro, but he's still had a pretty decent career thus far. In 7 years, he has racked up 720 tackles and 15.5 sacks. Anyone who can average over 100 tackles per season must be pretty good.

     

    Although now that the Broncos have drafted LB Von Miller, and Elvis Dumervil returning from injury, it's possible Williams' production may start dropping as a result. But if he decides to pursue free agency, I'm sure there will be plenty of teams who would like him.

2nd Back-Up OLB: Rocky McIntosh

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    Teams Played For: Washington Redskins (2006-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    Similar to Williams, Rocky McIntosh is another guy who can rack up a lot of tackles, averaging about 81 tackles per season, but has never been rewarded for such. He's been a solid OLB during his 5 year tenure with the Redskins, and it would seem that his production should continue, as nobody looks poised to take his starting job away from him.

Starting MLB: Ray Lewis

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Ravens (1996-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    12 Pro Bowl Selections

    10 All Pro Selections (7 First Team, 3 Second Team)

    2 Time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2003)

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 35)

    Super Bowl 35 Most Valuable Player

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

     

    I don't think I'm gonna get too much flak for saying this, but I truly believe that Ray Lewis is simultaneously the best MLB in NFL history and the best NFL player to ever come out of the University of Miami. In fact, when it's all said and done, he may be competing with Lawrence Taylor for the title of best LB of all time period.

     

    I mean, the accolades say it all. He holds the following NFL records:

    -Most Pro Bowl selections by a MLB

    -Most All Pro selections by a MLB (tied with LT for most by any LB)

    -Most games started at MLB

    -Quickest to reach both the 20/20 club AND the 30/30 club

     

    He's led the NFL in tackles 5 times en route to 1909 tackles in his career, meaning he could surpass 2000 career tackles next season. In 2003 he recorded 6 picks, the most ever in the post-merger era. He had three career defensive TDs and a safety. He's won DPotY twice and is one of the rare defensive players to ever win Super Bowl MVP, this coming in an era where it's almost the default to award it to the QB. In 15 playoff games he's averaging almost 10 tackles per game.

     

    In 2009, nfl.com ranked him as the 18th greatest player in NFL history. I'm not gonna argue with that.

1st Back-Up MLB: Jonathan Vilma

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    Teams Played For: New York Jets (2004-2007), New Orleans Saints (2008-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    3 Pro Bowl Selections

    2004 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 44)

     

    Ray Lewis isn't the only top-tier MLB currently playing in the NFL. Jonathan Vilma is very good in his own right. Often referred to as the quarterback of the Saints' defense, he is both the brains and brawns of the group. He was pretty good with the Jets, winning DRotY in his first season and making a Pro Bowl the next year, but he has picked up his game a lot since going down to the bayou, making it to the last two Pro Bowls.

     

    His efforts were finally rewarded in 2009, when he helped lead the Saints on an historic run to their first Super Bowl title. In the game itself he was probably the second most valuable player on the team behind Brees, recording 11 tackles, playing at his best in the key 4th quarter. Tough to say if he'll someday find his way to Canton, but for now he's a pretty damn good linebacker.

2nd Back-Up MLB: Jon Beason

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    Teams Played For: Carolina Panthers (2007-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    3 Pro Bowl Selections

    2 All Pro Selections (1 First Team, 1 Second Team)

     

    It didn't take long once Ray Lewis left the Canes for Jonathan Vilma to make a name for himself. And it didn't take long once HE left for Jon Beason to become a big name. Miami has been great at reloading after losing MLB. Jon Beason could find himself higher on this list when all's said and done, but I wanna see his entire body of work before putting him above Vilma.

     

    That said, he's made 3 Pro Bowls in his 4 year career, a very impressive feat for anyone. He's averaging over 130 tackles per season, which is just insane. If he can keep up this production, he could probably start threatening even Ray Lewis for his spot in this list.

1st Starting CB: Antrel Rolle

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    Teams Played For: Arizona Cardinals (2005-2009), New York Giants (2010)

     

    Accolades:

    2 Pro Bowl Selection

    1 All Pro Selection (Second Team)

    1 Super Bowl Appearance

     

    This kid is already one of the brightest young corners in the league, having made two Pro Bowls thus far in his 6 year career and looking so far like he can make even more, cause those two have come in just the last two seasons. He was a vital part of the Cardinals team that made their historic run to Super Bowl 43 and is now part of a strong tandem of corners alongside former Cane Kelly Jennings in New York.

     

    I expect to see more out of this guy in the future

2nd Starting CB: Ryan McNeil

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    Teams Played For: Detroit Lions (1993-1996), St. Louis Rams (1997-1998), Cleveland Browns (1999), Dallas Cowboys (2000), San Diego Chargers (2001-2002), Denver Broncos (2003)

     

    Accolades:

    1 Pro Bowl Selection

     

    Okay, bare with me here, cause cornerback is not a position Miami has produced a lot of quality talent at. We continue on with Ryan McNeil, who wasn't bad, but he was alright. This journeyman made the Pro Bowl in 2001 and led the league in interceptions with 9 in 1997, though for some reason he didn't made the Pro Bowl that year.

     

    Other than that, I don't really have much to say about him.

1st Back-Up CB: Duane Starks

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Ravens (1998-2001), Arizona Cardinals (2002-2004), New England Patriots (2005), Oakland Raiders (2006-2007)

     

    Accolades:

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 35)

     

    Duane Starks was not bad in his career as a journeyman. He helped the Ravens and their legendary defense win Super Bowl 35. By the time he retired, he had 345 tackles and 25 interceptions, as well as a sack. I gotta say that 34.5 tackles per season is not a bad average for a CB.

2nd Back-Up CB: Phillip Buchanon

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    Teams Played For: Oakland Raiders (2002-2004), Houston Texans (2005-2006), Tamp Bay Buccaneers (2006-2008), Detroit Lions (2009), Washington Redskins (2010-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    This guy has been in the league for 9 years and he's already been with 5 different teams. That's impressive! Phillip Buchanon has not been nearly as great as he was during his time at Miami. That said, he hasn't been horrible. He's been a pretty good tackler, racking up 388, which is an average of 43 tackles per year. However, in the more important stat for a corner, interceptions, he's only got 20, which is just over 2 per year. 

     

    That almost makes me think he'd be better as a safety; he's a pretty good tackler, but not that good at intercepting passes.

3rd Back-Up CB: Ronnie Lippett

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    Teams Played For: New England Patriots (1983-1988, 1990-1991)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    Honestly, I can't find all that much information on Ronnie Lippett. But he had 24 interceptions in an 8 year career, so that's not too bad I guess. And he managed to pick off Dan Marino 7 times in his career. That's pretty impressive.

Starting FS: Ed Reed

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Ravens (2002-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    7 Pro Bowl Selections

    7 All Pro Selections (5 First Team, 2 Second Team)

    2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

     

    The Baltimore Ravens simultaneously have the best MLB of the last decade (well, really ever) and the best FS of the last decade (and, well, possibly ever). If you look up "ball hawk" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Ed Reed. One can debate who is the better safety between him and Troy Polamalu, but nobody can deny that Ed Reed has been the most dominant one of the last decade. Let's take a look at the NFL records he has set in his 9 years in the league:

    - 2004: Most interception return yards in a season (358 yards on 9 picks, later broken by Darren Sharper)

    - Three career blocked punts returned for TDs

    - Two longest interception returns for TDs in NFL history (106 and 107)

     

    He has 13 career TDs, including NINE defensive touchdowns (7 pick-6's, 2 fumble returns), 3 blocked punts, and one punt return. He has recorded an insane 7 interceptions in 9 career playoff games and led the league in 2010 with 8 picks, despite only playing 10 games. If not for the injuries that have plagued his career, he may very well have solidified himself as the greatest safety of all time.

     

    To put it short, Ed Reed will find his way to the Hall of Fame 5 years after his retirement, which Canes fans and Ravens fans alike hope won't be a very long time.

1st Back-Up FS: Sean Taylor

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    Teams Played For: Washington Redskins (2004-2007)

     

    Accolades:

    2 Pro Bowl Selections

    1 All Pro Selection (Second Team)

     

    It's hard to think of Sean Taylor and not remember his tragic death and the outpouring of emotions that followed. I'm a Patriots fan, and yet one of my most vivid memories from 2007 was not from the 16-0 campaign, but from the first Redskins game immediately following his death, and playing the first defensive snap with only 10 players on the field in his honor. I also remember the Ravens/Patriots game and the speech by Ray Lewis to Ed Reed and Willis McGahee, and the burst of emotion from him in that game, particularly toward the end of the game.

     

    But looking past all that, one cannot deny that Sean Taylor, during his nearly 4 years in the league, was one of the brightest young safeties in the league. He was named to Pro Bowls in each of his last two seasons and was one of the hardest hitting players around. He averaged 75 tackles and 3 picks per season, and he was probably still not in the prime of his career. Though I think he did enough during those 4 seasons to solidify his spot as the second best FS in NFL history to come out of Miami.

Starting SS: Brandon Meriweather

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    Teams Played For: New England Patriots (2007-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    2 Pro Bowl Selections

    1 Super Bowl Appearance

     

    I know I'm probably gonna get a lot cries about how Meriweather is overrated and shouldn't be here, but hey, if you can find any other strong safety in NFL history who's had as much success, especially in such little time, go ahead and tell me.

     

    I'll admit that maybe there is a little more hype for him than necessary, but he's still been pretty solid throughout his 4 year career thus far. If you take away his rookie season, where he spent most of his time on special teams and recorded just 28 tackles, over the last 3 seasons he has averaged 78 tackles and 4 picks per season, solid stats by and safety. He's a hard hitter (Todd Heap can attest to that) and is a difference maker on the Pats defense.

     

    I wouldn't go so far as to call him an elite safety at the moment, but he can definitely get to that rank if he hits his potential soon.

1st Back-Up SS: Bennie Blades

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    Teams Played For: Detroit Lions (1988-1996), Seattle Seahawks (1997)

     

    Accolades:

    1 Pro Bowl Selection

     

    Like I said, there aren't many quality strong safeties to play in the NFL that came out of Miami, but there are a few decent ones. After a Hall of Fame career with  the Hurricanes, he went on to spend 9 years with the Detroit Lions. Despite that setback, he had a respectable career, recording a total of 230 yards and 14 interceptions. One can argue that he did not live up to being the #3 overall pick in the 1988 draft, but he still was a respectable member of an otherwise mediocre squad, as evident by the Pro Bowl he got elected to in 1991.

Kicker: Danny Miller

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    Teams Played For: Baltimore Colts (1982), New England Patriots (1982)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    Okay, Danny Miller had almost no impact on the NFL at all, but the only other kicker Miami has ever sent to the pros, Carlos Huerta, had even less of an impact (though was a force to be reckoned with in the CFL, but this is just NFL players). Miller only attempted 11 FGs in his career, connecting on 6 of them.

     

    That's all I really have to say about him. Let's hope Matt Bosher, who become the third Hurricanes kicker to ever be drafted this year, has more success than him or Huerta.

Punter: Jeff Feagles

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    Teams Played For: New England Patriots (1988-1989), Philadelphia Eagles (1990-1993), Arizona Cardinals (1994-1997), Seattle Seahawks (1998-2002), New York Giants (2003-2009)

     

    Accolades:

    2 Pro Bowl Selections

    1 Time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl 42)

     

    Brett Favre may be the most recognizable recent example of an iron man, but Jeff Feagles was definitely second. He was not the greatest punter in NFL history, but he's one of the top guys. His 22 year career, which ended after 2009 at the ripe old age of 43, saw him set NFL records for career punts, punts inside the 20, and punting yards. He also owns the NFL record for consecutive career starts at a whopping 352. Sure that may not be as impressive as Favre's 297 consecutive starts, but that's still not something to scoff at. If I had to boot a ball 40+ yards multiples times a game for 352 consecutive games, my leg would've long since fell off. Those 352, which also accounts for every game he's ever played in, a perfect 100%, is also good for 3rd all time total starts by any single player.

     

    He became the oldest player to play in a Super Bowl in SB 42 at 41 years, 10 months, a mark later broken by Colts K Matt Stover in Super Bowl 44

Starting Return Specialist: Devin Hester

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    Teams Played For: Chicago Bears (2006-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    3 Pro Bowl Selections

    3 All Pro Selections

    1 Super Bowl Appearance

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

     

    There has never been a return specialist who has been elected to the Hall of Fame, but if any guy is gonna change that, it's Devin freakin' Hester. This freak of nature has been lighting up teams on a consistent basis since entering the league in 2006 with his unbelievable kick and punt returns. In just five years he has already set the NFL record for total kick and punt return TDs in a career with 14. In his rookie season, he entered the history books by taking the opening kickoff of the SUPER BOWL to the house for a TD, the only time that's ever happened.

     

    And even after 5 years, he still hasn't let up, as this past season was his best since 2007. If he can string together a few more historic seasons, maybe he can avoid being the second coming of Ray Guy and actually find enough respect to get into the Hall of Fame.

1st Back-Up Return Specialist: Roscoe Parrish

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    Teams Played For: Buffalo Bills (2005-Present)

     

    Accolades:

    None

     

    I considered putting Tremain Mack here because he made a Pro Bowl, but he played for only 4 years, and Roscoe Parrish still has some years left to try to make his first. In the meantime, his career stats are pretty impressive. He's primarily a punt returner, but in his career, he has taken 3 punts back for TDs and holds the current best yards per punt return average in league history for return men with 60+ punt returns, at just over 14 yards per return. He had his best year in 2007, when he had an insane 16.5 yards per return average as well as a 74 yard punt return TD.

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