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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Football

Oliver, Ward to get their first postseason action in the NFL


Ed Oliver, an alumnus who was the 2017 AAC Defensive Player of the Year with the Cougars, will play in his first NFL playoff game at NRG Stadium on Saturday afternoon. | File Photo

Ed Oliver, an alumnus who was the 2017 AAC Defensive Player of the Year with the Cougars, will play in his first NFL playoff game at NRG Stadium on Saturday afternoon. | File Photo

The Cougars are not enjoying a postseason berth to end the year as they finished the 2019 campaign with a 4-8 record, however, several of their alumni are.

The NFL postseason begins Saturday afternoon in Houston. Four former Cougars are representing in their respective team’s quest for the Super Bowl. Let’s take a gander at their seasons heading into the NFL playoffs.

Tyus Bowser – Baltimore Ravens

A key contributor for the feisty Baltimore Ravens defense, Bowser represents Houston well as an outside linebacker pass rusher in Baltimore, just as he did in Houston.

Though not a starter in the Ravens’ defense, he saw his fair share of action in 2019. On the season, he recorded five sacks, 20 combined tackles, three tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits.

Cougars fans won’t see Bowser playing in the playoffs soon, however. He helped Baltimore reach the first-seed of the playoffs in the AFC, securing them a first-round bye.

Ed Oliver – Buffalo Bills

Houston’s most recent first-round pick, defensive tackle Ed Oliver showed the Buffalo Bills why they took him at No. 9 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

While he’s not a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, he showed off his uber-athletic and powerful skill set all-season-long.

While rushing from the interior, Oliver finished his rookie regular season with five sacks, 43 combined tackles, four tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits to his name. He made a difference, outside of the statistics, with his menacing run-stuffing ability.

Oliver will be back in his hometown Houston when the playoffs kickoff from NRG Stadium as the Houston Texans host the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday afternoon.

Elandon Roberts – New England Patriots

Surprise, the New England Patriots are back in the playoffs. Inside linebacker Elandon Roberts will secure his fourth-straight visit to the postseason.

More of a key role-playing linebacker in New England’s vaunted defense, Roberts finished his fourth professional season with a sack, 28 combined tackles, a tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.

On Sunday afternoon against the Miami Dolphins, he lined up on offense to catch Tom Brady’s 540th career touchdown pass.

The Patriots, however, lost in upset fashion to the Dolphins, meaning Roberts’ squad will have to play in the first-round against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

Greg Ward – Philadelphia Eagles

Once a starting quarterback for Houston, Greg Ward spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad and had a stint in the AAF sandwiched in-between practicing as a wide receiver. He finally got his breakthrough in 2019.

Acting as Carson Wentz’s favorite target after numerous injuries to their receiving corps, Ward has flourished in the Eagles’ offense as a slot receiver. In his first season as an NFL receiver, he tallied 28 receptions for 254 yards and a touchdown in seven games.

The Eagles barely moved on to the playoffs. They will start their journey in the first round as a wildcard hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

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