With the NFL season fast approaching, join us on the first of a semi-weekly installment called Pro Dawgs, where we will breakdown the biggest news involving former Washington Huskies now in the NFL.
New Dawgs making impact In NFL
Four Washington Husky players from the defensive side of the ball were taken within the first 44 picks of the 2015 NFL Draft, and all have paid dividends for their new NFL teams this preseason. Danny Shelton, taken 12th overall by Cleveland, and has moved to the top of the Browns depth chart, ahead of veteran Phil Taylor at nose tackle. Shelton has been praised in Cleveland for his ability to stop the run, and his high energy effort -- both traits that endeared him to Husky faithful. The Browns hope they have found an answer in Shelton to their dismal run stopping effort in recent seasons.
Marcus Peters, who was dismissed from Washington for disciplinary reasons last season, still ended up bring selected 18th overall by Kansas City, and has been one of the most impressive players on the Chiefs roster this summer. Peters has proven to be a ball hawk in practice, intercepting four passes and breaking up numerous others, adding to the Defensive Rookie of the Year chatter surrounding him. He started Friday against Tennessee and did a solid job shutting down Titans receivers. Thus far he seems to fit the mold of current NFL defensive backs such as Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman, who do as much to hinder the passing game with their mere presence on the field as they do actually defending balls thrown their way.
Shaq Thompson, the third Husky taken in the 2015 NFL Draft (25th overall), has been impressive in limited action for the Carolina Panthers. Thompson had two tackles in the Panthers most recent game against New England, one saving a potential first down. The problem for Thompson will be finding playing time on a solid linebacker corps for the Panthers, lead by Luke Kuechly and A.J. Klein. A short yardage and goal line run stopper could be a possibility for Thompson in the interim.
Hau'oli Kikaha set a school record, and lead the nation in sacks in 2014 as a member of the Huskies with 19, and was rewarded by being selected in the second round, 44th overall, by the New Orleans Saints. He missed a day of practice midweek, but quickly returned the following day. Kikaha currently sits atop the Saints depth chart at strongside linebacker, and like Shelton, has a motor that impresses coaches, and can make up for many potential flaws in his game.
A look at the Seahawks trio of Husky receivers
Three former Husky receivers, Kevin Smith, Jermaine Kearse, and Kasen Williams have remained close to their old stomping grounds with the Seattle Seahawks. Smith went undrafted in 2014, and is now in his second summer stint with the Seahawks. After failing to make the team a season ago, he has impressed head coach Pete Carroll thus far this summer. Carroll spoke to Seahawks.com about Smiths performance this preseason, stating:
"He had two great plays and good finishes on catches. It was really cool to see that. He has been really active in camp and done very, very well for us."
Smith responded to Carroll's praise, "You can't worry too much about the future or looking back...I'm doing a better job taking it one day at a time now than I was last year."
He proved his worth on special teams Saturday, returning a pair of punts for 24 yards and a kickoff for 54 yards. In celebration of the kickoff return, Smith slapped fellow Seahawk and ex-Husky Jermaine Kearse on the side of the head, a jovial moment that is now making its way around the internet.
Smith hopes to join Kearse, another undrafted Husky, in making it to the Seahawks roster of 53 after an impressive training camp. Kearse enters his fourth season as a Seahawk, and coming off a 2014 campaign in which he finished with 38 receptions for 537 yards and a touchdown. He is also remembered for his miraculous catch in the closing moments of the Super Bowl that seemingly gave the 'Hawks their second consecutive championship -- until it didn't. Kearse is currently slotted as the top receiver on the Seahawks, and figures to see an increased workload in 2015.
The third ex-Husky receiver on the Seahawks roster is Kasen Williams, who went undrafted and signed with the Seahawks in June following a failed physical with the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams has drawn praise this summer for his sure hands, and came up with a key 22-yard reception on 4th & 1 against San Diego with under a minute to play Saturday, leading the 'Hawks to a field goal and a late win over the Chargers.
Around the rest of the NFL
- Washington safety Dashon Goldson missed a big tackle on Baltimore's Steve Smiths 63-yard touchdown reception from Joe Flacco on Saturday. Goldson still finished with five tackles in the Redskins 31-13 win over the Ravens.
- Andrew Hudson had drawn praise from Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan, but was still waived Monday in the latest round of roster cuts. He was stuck in the middle of the Bills defensive depth chart behind Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Alex Carrington and newly acquired IK Enemkpali.
- Also waived Monday was defensive end Caesar Rayford, who was let go by the Minnesota Vikings.
- Tampa Bay starting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had a 14-yard reception in the Bucs loss to Cleveland Saturday. He is expected to be a favorite target of Jameis Winston this season, along with receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
- Atlanta's Desmond Trufant is expected to return to practice this week after being sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered in the middle of August.
- Cleveland kicker Travis Coons converted a pair of extra points in the Browns win Saturday over the Bucs, but remains behind fellow kicker Carey Spear, who had two extra points and a field goal against Tampa.
- Bishop Sankey rushed for only 17 yards on six attempts for the Titans in their loss to the Chiefs, but he should still maintain his spot atop the Titans depth chart at running back.
- Menelik Watson, Oakland Raiders right tackle, will miss the season with a torn Achilles tendon. This could give more playing time to former Husky Khalif Barnes who is currently listed as the second option at left tackle and third at right tackle for Oakland.
- Sticking with the Raiders, Marcel Reece had two rushes and two receptions in Saturdays loss to Arizona, including a 41-yard reception.
Stay with us for all the latest news on former Huskies now in the NFL with Pro Dawgs and follow me on Twitter @GQuintero_84