In last year's Super Bowl, Austin Collie caught 6 passes for 66 yards including a 40 yard grab for the Colts, while teammate and fellow BYU alum Aaron Fransisco (now with Carolina) added two tackles on special teams. Across the NFL in 2009 former Cougars made their presences known. After the jump is a look at the upcoming 2010 NFL Season and what we can expect from our former 'Boys in Blue.'
John Beck - QB - Washington Redskins - #3 - 4th Year
Beck is starting the year at number 3 on the depth chart but that doesn't tell the whole story. With an aging and ailing Donovan McNabb, Beck could get to see playing time if the current backup/starter, Rex Grossman shows signs of struggling.
Travis Bright - OL - Dallas Cowboys - #60 - 2nd Year
Bright is a beast! A freak of human strength and power! They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Travis proves that theory correct. As a second year man on the Cowboys OL, Travis will look to solidify his place on the team and be the first man in in case of injury. Travis has been playing guard for the Cowboys, but moved to center in the off-season which could open up more opportunities to get on the field.
Dan Coats - TE - Cincinnati Bengals - #86 - 4th Year
In three seasons with the Bengals Coats has played in all but one game and has averaged 9.7 yards per reception. Coats expanded his role in 2009 to include playing fullback and has shined on special teams for the Bengals, which led to a contract extension in 2010. Look for Dan to continue his consistent contributions to the team in 2010.
Austin Collie - WR - Indianapolis Colts - #17 - 2nd Year
Collie finished his rookie campaign with 60 catches for 676 yards and 7 TD's which was good enough to land him second in the Rookie of the Year voting. Collie quickly became a go to target for Peyton Manning and shined in the Super Bowl for the Colts. In 2009 Collie was "filling in" for an injured Anthony Gonzalez, but proved that he is more than capable of being a consistent starter for the Colts. Look for Collie to repeat his break out year in Indianapolis and get plenty of looks from Manning.
John Denney - LS - Miami Dolphins - #92 - 6th Year
Denney has been "Mr. Consistent" with his timely deep snapping for the Dolphins and in 2009 also contributed with 22 tackles on special teams. You know John is doing a great job when nobody is talking about him. Don't look for John's names to be in any headlines in 2010.
Rey Feinga - OL - Miami Dolphins - #69 - 2nd Year
After spending time with the Rams and Chargers in the beginning of 2009 Rey was signed as a member of the Dolphins practice squad in December of 2009 and is looking to impress coaches enough to make the 53 man roster in 2010.
Francisco has played in 63 games over a 5 year career in the NFL, mostly with the Cardinals. After going to the Super Bowl with the Colts last year Aaron has now signed with the Panthers to continue his role as a special teams assassin and big hitting safety in the secondary. Fransisco is currently list at #2 on the depth chart but typically gets a lot of playing time in nickle and dime packages.
While playing in the shadow of Dennis Pitta, George still made amazing contributions to the Cougars over the last 3 years. In my opinion the Bills have just landed a diamond in the rough. If George makes the team in 2010 it will not take long before he is making an impact on the Bills season both on offense and in special teams.
Max has performed well in the pre-season and while he may not be of the same body type as the other QBs on the roster he has the advantage of coming in after Kurt Warner (same body type as Max) recently took the team to the Super Bowl. If Max can continue to break the stereotype of a short QB he has a shot at not only making the team but pushing for time. Currently the Cardinals are without a true starting QB and with a possible lack in production from the QB spot, it could be up for grabs at mid-season.
Chris Hoke has played in 93 games over 8 years in the NFL. He is a constant in the rotation at nose tackle for the 3-4 defense. Hoke will continue to fill the same role for the Steelers in 2010.
Don't be surprised this year when you see #53 on the field for the Giants and it is not Bryan Kehl. Kehl changed his number over the off season. Bryan has consistently proven valuable on special teams for the Giants and was also able to start a few games for the Giants last year. Bryan has bulked up significantly since leaving BYU in order to fit into the Giants 4-3 scheme. The longer he is in the system, the more he is going to shine. It is a tough transition to go from a 3-4 to a 4-3 for an OLB, but Byran is making it happen.
Brett Keisel - DE - Pittsburgh Steelers - #99 - 9th Year
Keisel is an impact player on the Steel Curtain defense. Last year Keisel racked up 54 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Although I am a Charger fan, I love to look for #99 to make plays week in and week out.
David Nixon - OLB - Oakland Raiders - #56 - 2nd Year
Nixon started the 2009 season on the practice squad but was able to play on special teams in 3 games for the Raiders last season. This is a Raider team that needs play makers at linebacker and that should provide Dave plenty of opportunity to excel. I can't root for the Raiders against my Chargers, but I will be pulling for Dave all season!
Dennis Pitta - TE - Baltimore Ravens - #88 - Rookie
We all know what Pitta is capable of. He has not made an enormous impact in the preseason for the Ravens, but he is still the recipient of rave reviews from the coaches and players. Dennis is a gamer. When the lights go on, he makes it all happen! The Ravens return a solid veteran in Todd Heaps, but I would expect to see a lot from Dennis this year.
Brady Poppinga - ILB - Green Bay Packers - #51 - 6th Year
Brady Poppinga is probably the craziest person that I know. He beats to a different drum out there on the field, but that is what makes him the player that he is. A constant force on the Packer defense Brady is consistently in competition for the starting linebacker spot. In his previous 5 years in the NFL Brady has only sat out 5 games, 4 of which came in his rookie year. Whatever it takes, Brady will find a way to get on the field and make plays!
Dallas Reynolds - OL - Philadelphia Eagles - #66 - 2nd Year
Dallas did not see any game action in his first year with the Eagles, but his name comes up a lot in the media with the Eagle offense. He is a versatile lineman, able to play center or guard. Currently he is listed at second string Right Guard behind 7 year veteran Stacy Andrews. We may look for Dallas to come into the game on special teams on kickoff return and field goal as the Eagles frequently put back up OL out on the field.
Fahu Tahi - FB - Minnesota Vikings - #38 - 5th Year
Entering his fifth year in the NFL all Fahu has done is ensure that Adrian Peterson consistently racks up yardage game in and game out. I am told that when Fahu's contract expired two years ago Peterson told the Vikings if they let Fahu go, he (Peterson) would be the next one out the door. It sure pays dividends (and salaries) to have one of the top players in your corner. But Fahu earned those props by being a very dependable and physical fullback. If there isn't a hole, he will create it.
Harvey Unga - RB - Chicago Bears - #48 - Rookie
Harvey was signed by the Bears in the supplemental draft and then was quickly announced done for the year with a hamstring injury. Not the way Harvey, or any of us wanted his career to start. I believe in Harvey though and I know that he will get his body ready for next year.
Fui Vakapuna - FB - Cincinnati Bengals - #37 - 2nd Year
After signing with the Bengals in 2009 and then being released and signed by the Cardinals, Fui is back in Cincinnati. A shoulder injury has kept Fui from making it onto the field in the pre-season which could mean bad news for Fui and Coats. In Fui's absence Dan Coats has been taking more and more snaps at fullback, as Fui is the only fullback on the roster. Fui would rather be on the field and Coats would rather be catching passes, so let's hope Fui heals quickly and shows the Bengal coaches how Cougars hit!
Todd Watkins - WR - Oakland Raiders - #19 - 3rd Year
After two and a half years of the practice squad Todd played in 13 games for the Raiders last year and caught 8 passes for a total of 90 yards. The Raiders are looking for answers on offense, and with the departure of that one over-rated QB, maybe there will be more pass catching opportunities for Todd in 2010.