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Monday, September 24, 2018

Football

Midterm grades: Cougars make impact in NFL


NFL

Case Keenum was a monster in college football. He broke record after record in passing categories and finished his career on a high note with Houston. Despite this, he has remained an NFL backup most of his career. | File photo/The Cougar

The NFL season is as exciting as ever and close to its halfway point as we head into Week 8 regular season games.

Despite a kneeling controversy and up-and-down ratings, the NFL is still providing weekly opportunities to see your favorite players catch miraculous touchdowns and make spectacular hits. Among those players are people we should know well because they came to this school first and earned their right to play in the NFL at UH.

Many students are currently facing the tough task of their midterms, but what about the former UH students in the NFL? It’s time to hand out midterm grades to Cougars in the NFL.

Tyus Bowser, Baltimore Ravens: B

Second round pick for 2016 Tyus Bowser had a hot start to his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens. He was able to get a sack and an interception in his second career game against the Browns. Since that game, the outside linebacker has been able to tally only two tackles. Bowser has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler, and with the help of veteran Terrell Suggs, he just might become one.

The Ravens lost four of their last five games and currently have a 3-4 record. They still have an outside shot at making the playoffs but will need to play better than they have been. Bowser’s interception and sack were just enough to earn him a B.

D.J. Hayden, Detroit Lions: C+

Safety D.J. Hayden who played for UH between 2011-2012 and was drafted as the 12th overall pick, is currently in his first season with the Detroit Lions and has been a rotation cornerback for the team. The five-year veteran is having one of his better seasons this year with 20 tackles and three passes defended. At his current rate, he’s on pace to have his second-best season in both of those categories.

The Lions are currently 3-3 and are still very much alive in the NFC playoff race. The fact that Hayden isn’t a starter is what is holding him back from having a better grade.

William Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals: B

Graduate of the class of 2015, and former UH Cornerback, William Jackson is having success in his second season with the Bengals. He wasn’t able to play during his rookie year due to a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during training camp, but he’s back and healthy now.

Jackson has recorded 11 tackles and six passes defended in the six games he’s played this season. He also recorded an interception off of Aaron Rodgers that he returned for a touchdown.

The Bengals playoff chances, however, are low, given their 2-4 record. Jackson will get more opportunities this season to shine and possibly bump his final grade to a low A.

Elandon Roberts, New England Patriots: B+

Sixth round draft pick for 2016 Elandon Roberts is the only player on this list with a Super Bowl victory. He has been a contributing factor to the 2017 Patriots as well. He is the team’s starting weak side linebacker, but in today’s NFL, the weak side linebacker is usually off the field in passing situations. In 2017, Roberts has recorded 25 tackles and a fumble recovery despite limited playing time.

Although the stats have been average for Roberts, his grade is high due to the fact that New England sits atop the AFC East with a record of 5-2 and once again look as though they could be Super Bowl favorites.

Howard Wilson, Cleveland Browns: F

Howard Wilson played for UH between 2014-2016 before joining the Cougars only has an F because he has not been able to play yet this season due to the fractured kneecap he suffered in rookie minicamp. Wilson currently sits on the physically unable to perform list, which he may be activated from this week, or Cleveland can decide to move the rookie to injured reserve and end his season.

Wilson will have a higher grade than an F by season’s end if he is able to play. The Browns continue to be an absolute disaster, and with an 0-7 record, it seems that he won’t be able to experience the playoffs in his rookie season.

Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings: A

UH quarterback from 2006-2011, Case Keenum hasn’t lit the world on fire this season in his starts for the Vikings, but he has helped carry the team to a 5-2 record with his play. He gave a masterful performance against Tampa Bay in his second start, throwing 3 TD’s and more than 350 yards. He cemented his grade in just one game. The six-year pro stepped into the starting QB role after Sam Bradford’s injury and doesn’t appear to be letting it go anytime soon.

The Vikings seem to be destined for the playoffs in 2017. Keenum could see his grade rise if he keeps the starting quarterback job for Minnesota and leads them in a deep playoff run.

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