The University of Miami Hurricanes are less than two weeks away from kicking off the season, yet a large number of UM alums continue to slog through NFl Training Camp and Preseason games to cement their positions on the team. With final cuts looming, a few are just trying to make it onto the 53-man roster to start the season.
With the college season a hair away, State of the U will take a look at the ProCanes who look to do their alma mater proud. From the 2018 NFL Draft Class to the aging-yet-productive veterans, there’s a fair amount of tantalizing storylines for the 2018 NFL season. With that, let’s dive in.
How Much Does Frank Still Have in the Tank
On May 14th, Frank Gore celebrated his 35th year of life on the planet. With the average NFL player lasting only three seasons or less in the league, and life after 30 considered past one’s prime ; it’s even more incredible when you recognize Gore is still considered a viable running back in the league at that age. Father Time gets the last laugh on us all, but Gore has discovered the fountain of youth and is not yet the butt of that joke. You only need to think of his prolonged consistency in the game — he has amassed 3,226 rush attempts before entering his 13th season — to see why teams still vie for him. The Dolphins have bought into Gore’s fountain of youth, signing the back to a one-year deal. Set to take on the role as the early down back, splitting carries with Kenyon Drake, Gore’s mentorship will be valued as much as his work runs between the tackles in the coming months.
It will be difficult for Gore not to have one eye on the record books after each game. Currently sitting at 14,026 career rushing yards, the back needs just 75 yards to tie former Jets RB Curtis Martin for 4th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. Gore sits 1,243 rushing yards behind third place on the all-time list, former Detroit RB Barry Sanders.
The First Win is the Hardest to Get
HBO has done what many coaches in the recent past have failed to do: Make the Cleveland Browns a viable commodity in the NFL. The hard luck franchise appears to have plenty of optimism and potential leading up to the season kickoff. Credit the promotion of Hard Knocks for the injection of enthusiasm. Yet, if the Browns continue to lose out of the gate, look for the rest of the league to see the franchise as the same old Browns that went 0-17 in 2017.
The Browns are loaded with ProCane talent, if you haven’t noticed. RB Duke Johnson, TE David Njoku, DE Chad Thomas and LB Jermaine Grace all call “The Land” home these days. Like it or not, the Browns are going to be heavily featured in ProCanes Preview throughout the season based on the sheer number of Canes on the roster.
Will David Njoku finally gain that elusive first regular season win? As the TE found out in his first season, wins are not just gifted to you. Cleveland starts the season against AFC rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, followed by a tough matchup in week two against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, followed by games against the Jets, Raiders and Ravens. It may be a hard knock life to start the season.
Drafted to Play?
Unfortunately, there were no Hurricanes selected in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL draft. The aforementioned Chad Thomas was the first player selected with the third pick in the third round. Despite most of the class being selected in the rounds after, the expectation remains high for those players to contribute in their first season. It’s been a rough start to the pro career of RJ McIntosh. Diagnosed with a thyroid condition at the NFL Scouting Combine this past spring, the former starting DT is trying to get his condition under control. The Giants placed McIntosh on the active/non-football illness list after he did not take part in drills during the team’s minicamp following the draft.
As you guessed before his senior year, Braxton Berrios was selected by the New England Patriots. It appears that the player and franchise were meant to be as the off-season moved forward. With Danny Amendola having moved on with the Dolphins and Julian Edelman suspended by the league for the first four games of the season because of testing positive for a banned substance, it’s Berrios’ time to shine! Not so fast. Funny enough, Phillip Dorsett has been taking plenty of reps at slot receiver, continuing to gain the trust of the GOAT QB Tom Brady.
This means that Berrios will need to continue… well, being himself. Selling out for the catch on each possession, getting the extra yards and being a better teammate than Siri could ever amount to, Berrios leaves it all on the field whenever he laces up his cleats. If Braxton makes the final roster, it’s because he really impressed the Pats’ staff, given the competition at receiver. Unfortunate, Berrios was placed on the Patriots’ Injured Reserve list with an undisclosed injury. The WR was unable to participate in the final two weeks of the preseason because of the injury according to CBS Sports.
The path to Chris Herndon becoming a starter is as straightforward as any draft hopeful could want. The only hiccup in the whole thing is that Herndon has been unable to take advantage of the opening because of an injury. Herndon suffered an undisclosed injury in the lead up to the Jets’ first preseason game and missed both of the team’s first exhibition contests. Battling Jordan Leggett and fellow ProCane for targets at the position, Herndon may need some time to recover before he illustrates his true potential.
After missing out on a majority of his 2017 season with the Hurricanes, Mark Walton is healthy and off to a good start in Cincinnati. However, he’s stuck in a muddled backfield that has Joe Mixon as the lead back and Giovani Bernard as the other change-of-pace back similar to himself. We wouldn’t draft Walton in a standard league unless there’s an injury to either of the players just mentioned. However, none of that will matter if the Bengals’ offensive line continues to struggle at asserting their will in the run game.
After going undrafted this spring, G Trevor Darling signed with the Saints. He was waived a weeks ago.
New York Giants DT RJ McIntosh has been placed on the teams’ reserve/non-football injury list.
ProCane Cut Casualties
Saturday was cut down down in the NFL. With all 32 teams trimming down their player personnel to get to the 53-man roster, the dreams a some pros hit a snag on Saturday. It’s important to note that many of these names can still be placed on a practice squad before Monday.
CB LaDarius Gunter — released by Carolina Panthers
WR Malcolm Lewis — released by Miami Dolphins
DT Kendrick Norton — released by Carolina Panthers
WR Rashawn Scott— released by Miami Dolphins
TE Clive Walford — released by New York Jets
CB Dee Delaney — released by Jacksonville Jaguars
DB Kacy Rodgers II — released by New York Jets
LB Ufomba Kamalu — released by Houston Texans
PK Michael Badgley — released by Indianapolis Colts
DL Trent Harris — Trent Harris signed with the New England Patriots after going unselected in the 2018 Draft as well
P Justin Vogel — released by Cleveland Browns
DT Anthony Moten — released by Miami Dolphins
OL KC McDermott — KC McDermott had been working as the third-string right guard for the Jacksonville Jaguars in training camp.
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad — released by New Orleans Saints
Hung up the Cleats
Sometimes, it’s time to call it a career. While it’s bittersweet for player and fans, the transition to the post-playing career is one that can actually be exhilarating. Two players called it a career last year if we recall. DT Vince Wilfork and the NFL’s all-time leading returner Devin Hester hung up the cleats and said peace out to the game.
Team with the Most ProCane Love
Assuming all of them make the final roster, the Browns and Giants currently have the most ProCane talent on their respective rosters with four apiece.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!