Saturday, January 05, 2013

Butler, Colts to face Baltimore in playoffs

Darius Butler is the first of the three former UConn players to have a chance of seeing action in the NFL playoffs when the Indianapolis Colts play at Baltimore tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Butler, a cornerback, was originally drafted by the New England Patriots in 2009. After playing two seasons with the Patriots, he spent last year with the Carolina Panthers before being let go on Aug. 31. Butler was signed by Indianapolis on Sep. 25 and played 11 games for the Colts. Butler has 31 tackles and four interceptions for the Colts. Indianapolis also has two former Huskies on injured reserve. Running back Donald Brown ran for 417 yards in 10 games while linebacker Scott Lutrus was put on the IR in the preseason. Former UConn stars Kashif Moore and Greg Lloyd also spent time on Indianapolis' practice squad this season.

The other two UConn products on playoff teams will have to wait a week to get onto the field.

Donald Thomas, an offensive guard who played in all 16 games and started seven games, is another player who benefited from a change of scenery. Thomas started 13 games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He is in his second season with the Patriots and played a key role in allowing the Patriots to overcome a string of injuries on the offensive line. The Patriots are the second seed in the AFC and will host the highest remaining seed which emerges from this weekend's action on Jan. 13.

Cornerback Robert McClain of the Atlanta Falcons has been one of the biggest surprises of the NFL season. Like Thomas and Butler, he was given an opportunity to play due to injuries to established players.

McClain, who played 16 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2010, was an under the radar offseason signing by the Falcons and he has 61 tackles and an interception this season for Atlanta.

The Falcons are the top seed in the NFC and will host the lowest remaining NFC seed on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.

Here is a breakdown on how the other UConn products fared this season (not including players on practice squads):

OT Will Beatty, New York Giants: Played 16 games and had 15 starts for Giants
S Tyvon Branch, Oakland: Had 94 tackles and an interception while starting 14 games
WR Marcus Easley: Did not have a reception in three games although he did return two kickoffs for 75 yards
QB Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay: Was 4 of 7 for 41 yards in 41-0 loss to New Orleans in only appearance
DT Kendall Reyes, San Diego: Had 28 tackles in 16 games and 3.5 of his 5.5 sacks came in win over New York Jets.
FB Anthony Sherman, Arizona: Played 13 games with four starts. Had no carries but had five receptions for 39 yards
RB Jordan Todman, Jacksonville: Had three rushes for eight yards and one catch for no yards in only game against New York Jets

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