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Update on Nittany Lions In The NFL

Penn State has had a storied history of sending players to the NFL, and this season, many of those players are once again making headlines. Take a look at some of the Nittany Lions who are making their presences felt around in the league in 2014:

Devon-Still

DT Devon Still, Cincinnati Bengals 

Devon Still has five total tackles on the year (four solo, one assisted), but his story transcends football. His daughter, Leah Still, was diagnosed with pediatric cancer in June. Her prognosis came with a 50-50 chance of survival, but the touching story that ensued gave people everywhere, football fans or not, something to smile about.

The Cincinnati Bengals originally released Still during the last wave of roster cuts, but re-signed him to their practice squad to allow Leah’s medical bills to be covered under the team’s healthcare policy. In addition, the Bengals announced that all proceeds generated from the sale of Still’s jersey on the team’s website would be donated to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Over $1 million has been donated after around 10,000 jerseys were sold. Recently, Leah underwent successful surgery to remove tumors from her body, and although she must still endure rounds of chemotherapy, this is a step in the right direction in her fight against cancer.

Still was elevated to the 53-man roster a week after signing, and has been a solid role player on the Bengals’ defensive line. This touching story was a glimmer of light in the shroud of controversy that has blanketed the NFL’s front office.

You can help by purchasing shirts benefiting Leah at McLanahan’s.

12 - UCF - Allen Robinson

WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

In the offseason, Allen Robinson was nursing a lingering groin injury that allowed fellow rookie wideouts Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns to leapfrog him on the depth chart. Oh, the difference a few weeks makes.

Since the start of the season, Robinson has totaled 17 receptions for 192 yards, and is starting to look like the pass-catching monster he was in Happy Valley. Lee, on the other hand, has been limited to eight catches for 73 yards and is coming off an injury. Robinson is the perfect go-to target for fellow rookie Blake Bortles, and the two seem to be developing a nice rapport with one another. Robinson is even generating some fantasy buzz. Before we know it, Robinson could be taking the NFL by storm.

McGloin Award

QB Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders 

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves here: the Raiders suck. Everything about this franchise has been the epitome of a tire fire in recent years. Its head coach just received his walking papers, and the team is years behind where it should be thanks to failed draft picks like this and this.

Through all of the turmoil, there has been one symbol of unrelenting persistence, or as Penn Staters like to call it: Moxie. Matt McGloin can’t be kept off the field. He was thrust into action over the weekend after an MCL sprain to rookie Derek Carr, and delivered a 12-for-19 performance for 129 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. With Carr out for at least the next few weeks, the starting quarterback gig will go to either McGloin or Matt Schaub. McGloin wasn’t perfect in relief of Carr last Sunday, but was still able to find ways to keep the chains moving. My money is on McGloin to start against the San Diego Chargers in two weeks.

RB Silas Redd carries the football during the first quarter

(Former Nittany Lion) RB Silas Redd, Washington Redskins 

After seven rounds of not hearing his name called, former Nittany Lion running back Silas Redd was signed to the Washington Redskins roster, and has apparently found a nice niche. After beating out Nittany Lion great Evan Royster for a roster spot in training camp, Redd has gotten his share of looks this season. His best performance came against the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he took a stretch run to the right, cut it back, and scampered 14 yards into the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Don’t be surprised if Redd gets more looks on third down and in certain package situations.

Photo: Dave Cole

LB Michael Mauti, Minnesota Vikings 

Michael Mauti, a Penn State legend, has been limited in production this season. He has recorded only one tackle thus far, seeing limited action in a reserve role. He battled a foot injury early on, which has hampered his chances to fit into the rotation. Should any injuries occur to starter Anthony Barr, however, Mauti is more than capable to fill in.

LB NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers 

It was a known fact that NaVorro Bowman would be sidelined for at least the first six weeks of the NFL season due to his PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list status. Bowman, who tore his ACL in last year’s NFC Championship Game, is making strides in his rehabilitation efforts. According to head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bowman is back to sprinting and working out on turf, looking very good while doing so. Bowman’s presence would provide immense aid to the 49ers’ front seven. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite has been solid in relief of Bowman, ranking fourth on the team in tackles with 15. That said, you simply can’t replace the talent that Bowman brings to the field, especially when paired with fellow all-pro linebacker Patrick Willis. Look for Bowman to make his return in the second half of the season, but only if his knee is deemed to be fully healed.

LB Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys 

Unlike NaVorro Bowman, Sean Lee will not be seeing the field in 2014 as he rehabs the torn ACL he suffered in Cowboys’ organized team activities (OTA’s) this offseason. Former Raiders’ top 10 pick Rolando McClain has played surprisingly well in relief of Lee, and could possibly team up with Lee on the outside next season to form a formidable tandem in Dallas’ “Tampa 2” defensive scheme.

LB Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars 

Jacksonville is 0-4 and probably won’t win too many games this season, but once again middle linebacker Paul Posluszny remains the team’s one shining example of consistency on defense. Thus far, he’s has racked up a total of 41 tackles (31 solo, 10 assisted), which ranks third in the NFL. Barring injury, Posluszny should be able to crack the 100-tackle mark for the seventh season in a row. If that isn’t consistency, then I don’t know what is. For his sake, let’s hope the Jaguars get it together within the next few years so all of Posluszny’s hard work can lead to some postseason success.

LB Gerald Hodges, Minnesota Vikings 

Gerald Hodges has capitalized off an injury to starting linebacker Chad Greenway, turning in a stat sheet of 16 total tackles (14 solo, 2 assisted). With Greenway suffering from a broken hand and rib, keeping Hodges in the Vikings’ lineup might not be the worst idea. Hodges has plenty of upside, and could find himself contributing much more this season.

Other Notables: 

  • DE Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins (seven total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles)
  • DE Jack Crawford, Dallas Cowboys (four total tackles, one sack)
  • K Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears (5-5 on FG, 11-11 on extra points)
  • DE Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs (14 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery)
  • DT Jordan Hill, Seattle Seahawks (one tackle, one pass deflection)
  • TE Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers (eight catches, 77 yards, one TD)
  • DT Jared Odrick, Miami Dolphins (eight total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass deflection)

Nittany Lions with no recorded stats: 

  • OG Rich Ohrnberger, San Diego Chargers 
  • WR Jordan Norwood (Injured Reserve), Denver Broncos 
  • C A.Q. Shipley, Indianapolis Colts 
  • WR Chris Hogan (Played lacrosse at Penn State, football at Monmouth), Buffalo Bills
  • DT DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans 
  • TE Mickey Shuler, Jacksonville Jaguars 
  • LB Nathan Stupar, Atlanta Falcons 
  • OG Johnnie Troutman, San Diego Chargers 
  • OG John Urschel, Baltimore Ravens
  • OT Garry Gilliam, Seattle Seahawks (Also listed as team’s No. 3 tight end due to starter Zach Miller’s injury)
  • LB Glenn Carson, Arizona Cardinals
  • C Stefen Wisniewski, Oakland Raiders 

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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