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The NFL Draft and the spree of free agent signings that follow it are complete, and former Oregon Ducks players have pulled on the jerseys of a smattering of different NFL clubs. But unlike some NFL rookies, who ride the pine or take a back seat for a season or longer, several ex-Ducks have landed in very optimistic situations in terms of their chances of seeing playing time.
We’re going to take a glance at some of the top playmakers from the Oregon Ducks this past season, even one that did not stick around but has a major upside if he can get his act together. Former Wide Receiver Josh Huff, Running Back De’Anthony Thomas and Tight End Colt Lyerla can have a major impact for their respective teams in the upcoming season.
Several former Oregon players have landed in a unique situation with a former Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia which should increase their chances of seeing the field in the upcoming season. Two names that were picked and will play in the City of Brotherly Love are Wide Receiver Josh Huff and Defensive End Taylor Hart. Let’s take a closer look at the potential for these former Oregon Ducks players.
Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles
An appraisal of all of the resources found within an industry sportsbook review aggregator indicates a consensus belief that Oregon Ducks’ Josh Huff will have a negligible impact on the Eagles’ receiving core’s ability to recover from the departure of DeSean Jackson, as their 2015 Super Bowl odds remain at +1,800.
That said, Huff, who was taken in third round (86th overall), is a great fit in Philadelphia, first and foremost of course because of the mutual familiarity and coach Chip Kelly, who coached Huff as a Duck.
Kelly’s knowledge of the young receiver’s talents should mean Huff gets slotted into meaningful offensive snaps right away. As we saw this past season, Huff is good with getting in motion on sweep plays and can cut all over the field – a role the Eagles will be looking to replace now that Jackson is gone.
De’Anthony Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
Speaking of players finding opportunities in the departures of stars, De’Anthony Thomas has one in Kansas City. DAT joins a team that built schemes and special teams plays for former Chiefs highlight-machine Dexter McCluster (who is now a Tennessee Titan). As a player with a similar skill profile, the former Snoop Dogg Youth Football League star might inspire coach Andy Reid to revitalize McCluster’s old playbook.
The former Oregon Ducks speedster appears to have some options with his new team. Several sites heading into the 2014 NFL Draft were discussing where the former Oregon Ducks Running Back would fit in at the next level and some thought that shifting position to Wide Receiver would be a better fit for Thomas. One even went as far as suggesting a move to the Defensive Side as a Cornerback. It looks like Thomas will not change positions but work as a Running Back, and possibly a return man for now.
Colt Lyerla, Green Bay Packers
Another former Oregon Ducks player is looking to make a difference, but also has a shot at redemption. Colt Lyerla’s much-documented struggles with discipline, focus, and addiction have hung a dark cloud over a very talented tight end. His signing with the green and gold nine days after the draft represents an important second chance for Lyerla. This is a young man who needs the focus and support that an organization and city like Green Bay has is spades.
Furthermore, if Lyerla can keep it together off the field, he has the skills to make an impact in an offense that has sorely missed a playmaking TE for years. While he ranks at the bottom of the organization’s tight end depth chart now, there is tremendous room for personal and on-field growth for the former Oregon Duck in Green Bay considering that Starting Tight End Jermichael Finley is injured and also a free agent heading into the 2014 season. Lyerla could end up the backup in Green Bay if he plays his cards right.
In looking at the Super Bowl odds for the 2014 season, right now SportsBook Nation sees the Seattle Seahawks as the top choice, followed by the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. This post was made in March, but still holds true as far as talent on the field, however the three Oregon Ducks listed above could take their teams a long way into the playoffs in the upcoming year and become game changing factors in the years ahead for their respective teams.
There are stories that you hear about athletes doing wrong and never being able to recover from their mistakes. This is not one of those stories. You hear stories of athletes who are given second chances and third and fourth and still cannot get it right.This is not one of those stories. It is however a story of redemption for a Hillsboro native that was searching for a chance after given an opportunity or two and having them pass by. There are those that believe that former Oregon Ducks Tight End Colt Lyerla does not deserve another chance after leaving the football program at Oregon for ‘personal circumstances’ and then being an idiot for being caught in his car with a ‘white substance’ by the local Eugene Police Department, but that is not the story your going to read.
I believe that college athletes deserve a chance(or two) to get it right. Lyerla did not get drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft a few weeks ago and this past weekend had a tryout, along with fifty eight other athletes for a chance to make the roster for the Green Bay Packers. In the end, the former Oregon Ducks Tight End came out with a Free Agent Contract on Monday. The Lambeau crew should look forward to seeing this young man on the field. He will compete in the Fall for what I believe may be the backup tight end spot with Starter Jermichael Finley not only out with an injury, but also a free agent. Lyerla is in a prime position to show off his athleticism and strength at the position.
By some, he had done wrong and he still has several demons to face, but he now has the opportunity and a path to redemption for not only his career, but his personal life. For a guy who left the Oregon Ducks football program and pretty much instantly growing character issues, when it comes to Lyerla I am happy he has the chance to prove himself at the next level. I hope he takes the bull by the horns and shows what he is made of. He may even surprise everyone and make the roster of an NFL team in the Fall.
In signing with Green Bay, Colt Lyerla is now in the spotlight. The former Oregon Ducks player found a way to shift the story, and that is not always an easy thing to do. I know I am not the only person reading this who will be a ‘fan’ of him in the future.
For a different take on the Oregon Ducks, visit AutzenZoo.com
Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla will try out for the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent. Lyerla will compete among a pool of 58 rookies at the Packers’ rookie camp.
In the weeks after he withdrew from Oregon, Lyerla was charged with cocaine possession and interfering with police. At the NFL combine, Lyerla said he wanted opportunity to play for former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles.
During last week’s NFL draft, Lyerla went undrafted. The Packers were, however, one of three teams that attended Lyerla’s pro day, which was held at Portland State’s Stott Community Field.
The 6-foot-4, 242-pound tight end ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine. Lyerla was considered one of the best athletes at his position in this year’s draft.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim
The Eagles consolidated their recent gains by knocking off division-leading Green Bay, 27-13. It was a solid win (and their first against a team with a winning record). Nick Foles did not have another Hall-of-Fame-type of game. He started with some tentative play that brought back grim memories of his terrible showing against Dallas, but he steadied himself in the second half, ending with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a tightening grip on the starting quarterback position in Mike Vick’s absence.
Foles will never have Vick’s running ability, but continues to run well enough to keep the defense honest. He picked up a key late-game first down on a 9-yard read-option keeper, for example. That play was the cherry on top of a glorious 9 minute, 32 second 4th-quarter drive by the Eagles that was still only at the Packers’ 21 when time ran out. The Eagles lead the NFL in speed of touchdown drives by a mile (just a minute and 48 seconds, almost 45 seconds faster than the 2nd-place Bills) so it’s great to see them able to shift gears into ‘super-slow’ mode to ice a game.
On the other side of the scrimmage line, the defense has quietly become pretty decent, especially against the run. They shut down running back Eddie Lacy, who has been having a great year, and held their opponent below 22 points, for the sixth game in a row. The only other team that has done that is undefeated Kansas City. Better yet, the heart of the defense is a front line that is even stronger after trading away nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, and doesn’t have a single player older than 25. The D’s best moment came when Vinny Curry got a helmet-yanking sack and then gave the referee a tender hug; Jimmy Kempski suggested he make that ref hug his signature sack dance.
There is an asterisk on this win, though, because the Packers’ great quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out injured. How lucky was that for Philadelphia? Consider this: Rodgers had not missed a full game since he was named starting quarterback in 2008. 2008!!! Considering that Rodgers is the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating, and was MVP of the Super Bowl he won, that’s a pretty big asterisk. On the other hand, Rodgers doesn’t play defense, and the Eagles scored 27 against one of the league’s better squads.
The injuries didn’t stop there, though, for either team. Green Bay’s backup QB, journeyman Seneca Wallace, was injured not long into the game. That actually seemed to work in Green Bay’s favor, though. While Wallace is widely considered a stiff, and looked it before he pulled a groin muscle, 3rd-string QB Scott Tolzein — signed off the practice squad earlier in the week — played well and finished with 280 yards and a touchdown, against two interceptions. He showed a strong arm and lots of poise, especially for a guy playing his first regular season game after three years hanging around the bottom of various rosters.
The Eagles also got some lucky breaks, none luckier than DeSean Jackson’s 55-yard touchdown catch (the first of Nick Foles’ three scoring tosses). Jackson beat his man and a safety deep on a post route, but Foles’ throw, perhaps hindered by a cold headwind, was closer to the defenders than Jackson. They bumped each other and the ball popped up; DeSean calmly plucked it out of the air and slow-walked backwards into he end zone as the two backs crumpled to the turf. That play could have been either of TWO interceptions, but looked like another Foles masterstroke on paper.
Foles’ other two touchdowns were thrown to Riley Cooper, who is suddenly one of the NFL’s best No. 2 wide receivers. The odd thing is that Michael Vick targeted Cooper frequently, even to a fault in my opinion, but somehow Foles is finding Cooper open where Vick couldn’t. Foles is going to be very hard for Mike Vick to dislodge as starting quarterback when the veteran returns from injury; the tall second-year QB has 16 TDs and no interceptions this year, the second-best season start in NFL history (Peyton Manning set the record this year by throwing 20 touchdowns before he had an INT).
Coopers’ first touchdown catch was an odd one. Riley was in between the corner back covering him and a safety, but Foles threw a high, looping ball on the other side of the safety. He claims that this was deliberate, that he knew Cooper was a baseball player (drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, in fact) and could track a pop fly. Believe him or not, that’s exactly what happened. The second TD was more conventional, with Cooper throwing down a nasty double move to shed his cornerback, Foles hitting him perfectly in stride.
The most impressive thing about this victory was how Philadelphia handled its own rash of injuries. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher was out before the game started (along with starting QB Vick and WR Jeremy Maclin), and three more Eagle starters joined them; left tackle Jason Peters, safety Earl Wolff, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks. NFL rosters don’t allow teams to carry many subs, but Chip Kelly had the perfect answers with Roc Carmichael at CB, Allan Barbre at tackle, Patrick Chung at safety and Najee Goode at linebacker. Each stepped up seamlessly; Barbre was seen on one play blocking a safety 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles are now tied for first in the (admittedly crummy) NFC East with Dallas, who was killed by New Orleans. They play Washington on Sunday and then have their bye week to heal up. This season has had some real low points, but the Eagles are emerging as a real playoff contender, with Foles at the helm, a stiffening defense and a highly efficient offense that leads the league in explosion plays (both on the ground and in the air).
Despite having all his coaches wear mod Star Trek-looking sweatshirts, Coach Kelly was not flashing any futuristic offense or defensive trickery. His team won with a lot of solid, fundamental football, the spotty talent and his radical revamping of the team, notwithstanding. This might be the best evidence that, despite taking a lot of criticism this year, Chip might be a genius after all.
— Sam Finley, Sports Editor EDN
Some Civil War. It was hardly a battle for Oregon against their rival Oregon State. Instead, the Ducks left the Beavers in the dust with a 49-21 whipping.
Now comes the time for a couple admissions. First of all, Oregon was not necessarily over that loss to USC and they took out their frustrations on OSU.
“It motivated us a lot,” said Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas. “We wanted to show the other guys what we could do, as well as show ourselves again what we can do.So we came out anxious to get some respect from the Pac-12.”
Second, contrary to what some said this past week, this was not just another game to play on the schedule for the Ducks. Not to Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, anyway.
“It means everything,” said Barner with a big smile. “It’s bragging rights for another year. I can go to Corvallis, take my hat off and show my face and be happy about it.”
The Ducks can certainly be happy about a lot of things besides winning the annual state dispute. The victory gives them three consecutive seasons with at least ten wins. They also won the Pac-12 North, and will host the inaugural Pac-12 Championship on Friday as a result. Head coach Chip Kelly said the key to getting back on track came from an overall team effort.
“I think the defense set the tone for us early,” stated Kelly. “I took us awhile to get us into our rhythm offensively, but everybody contributed to this one.”
Yes, it took their offense a quarter to get going. But after the Beavers tied the game at 7-7, the Ducks ran off 42 points and you can point to a number of outstanding performances that made it happen. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns. LaMichael James rushed for 150 yards and a score (in what might’ve been his last Civil War matchup). Barner scored a couple of his own.
However, let’s give the game ball to senior tight end David Paulson. The soft-spoken, yet sure handed kid from Auburn, Washington led the way with a few more outstanding catches. On a surprising note, Saturday marked the first time he had a game with more than 100 yards in receiving. (105 to be exact).
“I think there was always a possibility of having a day like this,” said Paulson. “But you never really know until you see what defense they’re playing. We saw that the spots were open and we took advantage of it. It was fun to have the ball in my hands and help the offense out.”
Paulson had fun helping the offense out, and his teammates were glad to oblige one of their more reliable players.
“DP has been one of the most consistent guys all year,” said Thomas. “He comes out each week. Sometimes he’s banged up, but you wouldn’t know by his attitude. He caught every ball I threw his way. A very good game for him.”
Ironically, one of the other notable performers happened to be Paulson’s roommate. Defensive end Terrell Turner had two sacks and was willing to credit the living situation for their efforts.
“David was awesome,” said Turner. “I told him that’s why we’re roommates because we both played a good game.”
Of course, the fact that it was senior day also made their performances all the more memorable.
“It felt great,” Turner said. “I had my parents here, and they usually don’t make it out to that many games. So to have them here, and get to put on a show was awesome.”
“It was a special day,” said Paulson. “It was senior day and I looked back at the five years I’ve been here. I’ve had a great career and it’s kind of sad that it’s coming to an end. But it was fun to perform well in one of my last games here.”
Now the stage is set for UCLA (who clinched the Pac-12 South over the weekend) on Friday. If the Ducks can win that one, they’ll be back in the Rose Bowl for the second time in the last three years. It would also give them their third consecutive season of appearing in a BCS Bowl Game, setting up the goal of finally winning one. That being said, they have to get past the Bruins first.
“We’re excited for the chance to represent the Pac-12 North,” said Kelly. “The challenge for us is to play in a short week, and we haven’t done that. But the Bruins have the same challenge, too.”
Indeed, Oregon has a challenge on their hands and I’ll give my usual predictions later this week. In the meantime, let’s go over some other things that happened over the past few days.
I watched the Packers and Lions tussle on Thanksgiving Day and came to conclusion or two. One is that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL right now. As he led Green Bay to a 27-15 victory over Detroit, I marveled about how calm and cool he was in leading his offense down the field.
Some will say that Tom Brady is still the guy, but he hasn’t won a playoff game since the ’07 season (when his Patriots blew their perfect season in the Super Bowl). Peyton Manning is injured and may not be back. Thus, for my money, Rodgers is the guy I want as my signal caller at this time.
I could go on and on about him, but why don’t I move along to what irked me during that game? Ndamukong Suh really put his put foot on it, didn’t he? What was the Lions’ defensive tackle doing by kicking that Packer in the head? That action, by itself, was stupid.
But doing it after a recent meeting with the NFL Commissioner to allegedly clarify the rules really takes the moron cake. It is clear this guy has some anger management issues, and the league needs to discipline him accordingly.
I’ve heard that Suh is a nice guy off the field, and it looks like he does a lot of good work with charities. Still, there is no place for his on-field behavior and should be suspended for a few games.
Let’s get to some high school football before I wrap this up. In 5A action, Marist’s outstanding year is over. The Spartans lost 31-14 against Mountain View on Friday in the OSAA semifinals. Still, head coach Frank Geske and his boys have little to hang their heads about their 11-1 campaign. Next season, look for them to make another run at the title.
Meanwhile, at the 6A level, Sheldon showed why they might be the best team in the state against Grant. The Generals were supposed to provide them a tougher matchup, but the Irish ran them right off the field in a 49-7 blowout.
Now Sheldon will face another potential test in the OSAA 6A semifinals on Saturday against Central Catholic. But if Connor Strahm can play at his usual high level, you’ve got to like their chances against the Rams. And what a feather it would be in Lane Johnson’s cap to win a state title in his first season as the head coach? We shall see.
With that, there’s a lot of stuff going on this week and I intend to cover it as only I can.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.