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Penn Staters In The NFL: Preseason Recap

For some NFL players, the preseason is simply a time to practice and get ready for the upcoming season. But for others, the preseason is a wild ride that consists of desperately trying to make a team’s roster by playing your heart out every single snap.

Others aren’t fighting for roster spots, but to show how much they’ve grown as players and try and take starting jobs. Penn State had plenty of players in all of these categories this preseason. Some succeeded, and some did not.

Here’s how a few of Penn State’s recent alumni did this NFL preseason.

Trace McSorley, Baltimore Ravens

Penn State’s all-time leading passer made the most noise of any Nittany Lion this preseason. He entered the year with many doubting his ability to even make the Ravens’ roster, and his first two performances were ho-hum at best. He went 9-for-22 for 85 passing yards along with an interception his first game.

McSorley looked better during his second game, going 8-for-13 and throwing for 74 yards along with his first NFL touchdown, but another pick soured his short time out on the field.

But then the Ravens took a trip to Philadelphia.

McSorley went off against the Eagles with a 203-yard, two-touchdown performance coupled with a score on the ground. Another solid showing against the Redskins the next week (171 passing yards, one touchdown) helped secure McSorley a spot on Baltimore’s 53-man roster.

With Robert Griffin III apparently healthy again, McSorley will most likely serve as the third-string quarterback for the Ravens to start his NFL career.

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

Miles Sanders was one of the bigger names coming out of Penn State at the 2019 NFL Draft and generated plenty of buzzy during his first training camp. After solidifying his role during the early part of the summer, Sanders didn’t get too many touches in the Eagles preseason games. He only rushed for a total of 34 yards on eight attempts. Some of those eight carries, however, were definitely solid.

Sanders’ role as a big contributor for the Eagles was basically set before the preseason began, and that undoubtedly affected his preseason usage in an effort to guarantee his health. The Eagles will have quite the committee of running backs to choose from, but it’s safe to say Sanders will get his fair share of touches in the regular season.

Shareef Miller, Philadelphia Eagles

Shareef Miller found a spot on the Eagles’ 53-man roster after getting plenty of snaps this preseason. He was able to make the most of his first two preseason games, nabbing a sack in both and totaling seven tackles.

His second half of the preseason left much to be desired, as Miller didn’t even manage a tackle during the Eagles’ third game against Baltimore and only one tackle against the Jets in week 4. Clearly the Eagles liked what Miller brought to the table overall, but you have to wonder if Miller could’ve done more to truly cement his spot on the roster.

Jason Cabinda, Oakland Raiders/Detroit Lions

After getting himself a little segment on HBO’s Hard Knocks, Cabinda just couldn’t make a big enough impression on the field for Raiders to keep him around, despite starting three games for them last year.

He got snaps in all four preseason games but Jon Gruden and Co. must’ve not liked what they saw. Cabinda was cut by the team on August 31, but the linebacker was picked up by the Detroit Lions along with nine other players as part of a big practice team scoop up. Time will tell if Cabinda can do what he did in Oakland last year and work his way up into starting some games.

Ryan Bates, Buffalo Bills

Ryan Bates found himself suiting up for a different team he started with this offseason after he was traded by the Eagles to the Bills. He played 13 snaps in the Eagles’ first preseason game, but the team’s deep offensive line gave the Penn Stater no room to move forward.

After being dealt to the Bills, Bates really got an opportunity to shine. He posted 145 reps over the last three games, and he even played the entire fourth game at center against the Vikings. Bates has officially made the 53-man roster for the Bills and should add to the team’s offensive line depth thanks to his positional versatility.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Godwin is entering this season as a potential breakout star for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He established himself as a solid No. 2 option behind Mike Evans last year, totaling 842 yards and seven touchdowns.

Despite only playing in only two games this preseason, Godwin made his presence known in both by grabbing a touchdown in week 2 and amassing 54 yards on four receptions during week 3.

He’s also been making noise at the Buccaneers training camp while putting on shows for attending media and fans. While good plays during practice might mean less than performance in games, it’s hard not to get excited when Godwin is making catches like this:

DeAndre Thompkins, Philadelphia Eagles

Thompkins didn’t fare as well as his fellow Penn State alumni that started the preseason off with the Eagles. He was cut in the team’s first wave of roster subtractions.

The versatile wideout got 56 snaps during preseason, but he was only targeted six times and made just one reception for four yards. Thompkins was also dealing with a shoulder injury that limited his practice time.

Despite getting cut, Thompkins still has a chance to land on an NFL roster come opening day. If he clears waivers without another team claiming him, the Eagles (or another team) could step back in and sign him to their practice squad.

Amani Oruwariye, Detroit Lions

Amani Oruwariye was considered by many to be an absolute steal for the Lions in the 2019 NFL draft as a potential second-round talent falling to the fifth. His preseason was a mix of up and downs.

While he got a fair amount of first-team reps down in games and on the practice field — including a near interception of the one and only Tom Brady — he’d often make critical mistakes by allowing easy touchdowns and missing crucial tackles.

Much like Shareef Miller, Oruwariye made the 53-man roster off a couple solid showings, but he could’ve put more into the preseason in order to cement himself in Detroit’s rotation. He’ll have to monitor and manage a potential ankle injury, as well, as he enters the regular season.

Nick Scott, Los Angeles Rams

The former Nittany Lion captain made the Rams’ 53-man roster as the last safety on the depth chart. Scott had a quiet preseason, making only three tackles during his time out on the field.

His play on special teams helped Scott land his place on the team. Scott was a big contributor on special teams during his time at Penn State, and that experience is exactly what the Rams are chasing, both on coverage and as a returner. Head coach Sean McVay made this clear during a press conference, saying that the Rams want to make him their equivalent of Matthew Slater, a seven-time Pro Bowler for the Patriots on special teams.

While he might be in the same boat as Miller and Oruwariye in terms of his spot as a regular defensive contributor, Scott’s play on special teams that should secure his place in the City of Angels.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a junior majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Philosophy. He's a Philly sports fan, which causes him existential dread on the daily coupled with a deep distaste for the current state of Star Wars. Send him death threats at [email protected] and follow @m_paolizzi on Twitter for a near constant supply of second-hand embarrassment.


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