Friday, August 08, 2014

Former UConn stars Smallwood and Stephen make pro debuts tonight

Former UConn teammates Yawin Smallwood and Shamar Stephen are set to make their pro debuts tonight.

Smallwood and the Atlanta Falcons play Miami at 7 p.m. while Stephen and the Minnesota Vikings meet Oakland at 8 p.m. Neither seventh-round pick is a guarantee to make the final roster although as long as they hold their own during training camp, you would think the worst-case scenario would be for them at least land on the practice squads of the teams that drafted them. With both of them sitting around fourth on the depth chart at their respective positions, tonight could be a time for them to showcase what they are capable of in a live game setting.

I am sure Oakland linebacker Sio Moore will seek out Stephen after the game and Tyvon Branch is another former UConn player on the Raiders.

Another game worth watching is the Jacksonville and Tampa game (and I am not saying this just because I have been a Buccaneers fan since I lived in Florida in the mid 1980s). Dwayne Gratz is not only a lock to make the Jaguars but there are those who think he is ready to break out in a major way in his second season. With projected starting tailback Toby Gerhart out of tonight's game, Jordan Todman could get a chance to shine for the Jaguars. On the other side, linebacker Danny Lansanah is reported as having an outstanding camp.

The news was not all good from the pro ranks as Trevardo Williams' short stay with the Arizona Cardinals is over. He was plucked off waivers by the Cardinals but I have to wonder how bad of shape his knee is after a microfracture surgery forced him to spend his rookie season on injured reserve. Also, 12 different Washington Redskins caught passes in last night's preseason win over New England and none of them were former UConn receiver Nick Williams. Much like Kashif Moore in Pittsburgh, Williams could be caught up in the numbers' game when it comes time to trim the rosters.


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