Boise State has 17 former players on NFL rosters as the season begins Thursday night. Two are on practice squads, two are out for the season with injuries and one is out for half the season with an injury. Here’s a rundown:
RB Jay Ajayi, Dolphins
Ajayi was placed on injured reserve with the opportunity to return because of a chest injury (cracked rib) sustained in the final preseason game. He must sit the first eight weeks of the season. He gained 103 yards from scrimmage in the preseason finale before he was hurt. “I thought he ran hard,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said, according to the Miami Herald. “He made a guy or two miss, showed toughness inside, and caught the balls that were thrown to him, which is always a good place to start.”
TE Richie Brockel, Panthers
Brockel is dealing with a shoulder injury. He was limited to four games last season because of injury.
OT Ryan Clady, Broncos
Clady, the honorary captain at the Boise State season opener last week, is out for the season with a torn ACL.
DT Tyrone Crawford, Cowboys
Crawford enters his second straight season as the starting three-technique defensive tackle in Dallas. “We’re always trying to shock somebody,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “We’re always trying to shock the nation. That’s what this defense’s expectations are, they’re high. We’re trying to exceed that. We’re trying to shock everybody. I feel like we got a great defense. I feel like our plan is going well, we just got to keep executing and balling.”
S George Iloka, Bengals
Iloka has emerged as one of the top safeties in football.
S Jeron Johnson, Redskins
Johnson opens as the backup safety behind Duke Ihenacho, a former San Jose State player. Johnson left Seattle for a chance to be a starter. Ironically, if he had stayed in Seattle, he might be starting this week with Kam Chancellor holding out.
DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys
Lawrence will try to build on his playoff success as his second pro season begins. He’s the starting left defensive end. “He’s gotten so much better as a player,” coach Jason Garrett said, according to ESPN.com. “He’s a talented guy who can play the run and affect the quarterback. He plays with great intensity and he practices hard. He embraces the experience and coaching he gets, and that’s a great sign for young players. You can see it in how he’s developed.”
OT Charles Leno Jr., Bears
Leno contended for a starting tackle spot in preseason, playing both sides. The Bears haven’t announced what they’re going to do on the offensive line yet but an “unofficial” depth chart listed Leno as the starting right tackle.
RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers
All signs point to a bounce-back season for Martin, who was one of the NFL’s best offensive players as a rookie in 2012 but has been injured and ineffective the past two seasons. “I’m very excited for Doug Martin,” wide receiver Vincent Jackson told SiriusXM NFL Radio, according to CBSSports.com. “I promise you he has shown that spark and juice that you saw in 2012.”
LB Shea McClellin, Bears
McClellin will start at inside linebacker for the Bears as he searches for the right positional fit.
QB Kellen Moore, Cowboys
Moore signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad after he was cut by the Lions. He spent the previous three years as the Lions’ No. 3 quarterback and signed a two-year contract in the offseason. But when the Lions decided to keep only two quarterbacks, Moore chose his former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and the Cowboys over the Lions. “I could have gone back to Detroit,” Moore told The Dallas Morning News. “I felt like a little change might work…We’ll see what happens. The first priority is to understand how things are run here. The offense here is not going to be the same that we had in Detroit, when Scott was there. There are ways they do it here. First and foremost, learn that stuff and then kind of work from there.”
OL Matt Paradis, Broncos
Paradis has gone from eight-man football in Council to Boise State walk-on to All-Mountain West center, to NFL practice squad center to the man who snaps the ball to Peyton Manning. Paradis will start this week in his first pro game.
FB Blake Renaud, Vikings
The rookie and former Boise State linebacker was placed on the Vikings’ practice squad. Starting fullback Zach Line has been injured this week and Renaud has taken snaps in practice, so it’s possible he’ll be elevated to the active roster.
CB Orlando Scandrick, Cowboys
Scandrick is out for the season with a torn ACL. He recently was honored as the Cowboys’ defensive co-MVP for last season.
“I promise you, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, I’m going to come back and I will be a better football player than anybody has ever seen me be around here,” he said at a team kickoff luncheon.
CB Jamar Taylor, Dolphins
Taylor has fought injuries throughout his three-year pro career. A quad injury sidelined him for the last two preseason games and he’ll open the season as a backup. He is expected to play in nickel situations. “I know what I can do; I know what I’ve put on film,” Taylor told the Miami Herald. “I know that, if I wasn’t injured, it would probably be a different way. Not really worried about it. I’m just worried about getting healthy, trying to help out this team. If it’s the nickel role, it’s the nickel role. If it’s the starter role, it’s the starter role. My job is to go out there and cover receivers, put good stuff on tape, as I’ve always done.”
CB Kyle Wilson, Saints
The former first-round pick of the Jets surprised some by making the roster with the Saints as a free agent this year. ESPN.com lists him as a third-team cornerback. The Saints haven’t posted this week’s depth chart.
DL Billy Winn, Browns
Winn, who was injured for much of the preseason, might have earned his spot on the final roster with an impressive showing in the preseason finale. “There’s more pressure this year because our level of competition has gone up so high,” Winn told the team website. “The guys that we’ve brought in are playing lights out. It’s going to be hard for these coaches and the guys upstairs to decipher who they want to have on this squad.”