Tigers among early NFL standouts in 2002

A few former LSU football players made a big splash in the opening week of the 2002 NFL season.

Former LSU running back Rondell Mealey (1996-99) made the most of his chances in Green Bay's 37-34 overtime win over Atlanta. Subbing for the injured Ahman Green, Mealey carried five times for 30 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for an 11-yard gain.

 

Green Bay Packers' running back Rondell Mealey (32) goes over tackle Earl Dotson for a two-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 37-34 in overtime. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

 

Mealey has bounced back from an ACL tear and a broken leg in his first two seasons in the NFL to become Green's back-up. His role was solidified when the Packers decided to cut Ki-Jana Carter in the pre-season.

On the losing end of the score was former LSU center Todd McClure (1995-98), who is the Falcons' starting center.

 

The opening week of the 2002 season was not at all like Pittsburgh envisioned, as the Steelers fell to New England, 30-14, at the Patriots' new Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

The game paired a few Tigers against each other, with the most notable being Steelers' All-Pro offensive guard Alan Faneca (1995-97) and Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green (1998-2001). The two never went head-to-head, but Green gave Pittsburgh's tackles fits in the second half when he replaced Bobby Hamilton. His highlight was a fourth quarter sack of Steelers' quarterback Kordell Stewart that also resulted in a fumble.

New England third-string quarterback Rohan Davey (1999-2001) didn't see action, and Patriots running back Kevin Faulk (1995-98) was inactive for the game. The team went instead with J.R. Redmond, thinking he would make a better pass catcher out of the backfield.

 

Minnesota features two former Tigers who played together during their LSU careers. Kenny Mixon (1994-97) starts at left defensive tackle and is backed up by Chuck Wiley (1994-97). Mixon made 4 solo tackles and one assisted stop while Wiley added a solo tackle in the Vikings' 27-23 opening week loss to Chicago.

 

Detroit Lions wide receiver Larry Foster had one catch for 4 yards in a humbling 49-21 loss at Miami. Primarily a special teams player, he also had three kickoff returns for an average of 23.5 yards a chance.

Some thought Foster was in danger of being waived before the season when he failed to produce any significant statistics in the Lions' exhibition games. But the heat is off Foster for now and on Detroit's front office.

 

Cornerback Tory James (1992-95) made four tackles in Oakland's 31-17 win over divisional foe Seattle. He is in his third season with the Raiders after spending four years with the Denver Broncos.

With James at right cornerback and Heisman winner Charles Woodson at left corner, the Raiders boast one of the better coverage teams in the NFL

 

Kansas City got four catches for 120 yards from wide receiver Eddie Kennison in a thrilling 40-39 win decided by a Morten Anderson field goal as time expired.

A 64-yard pass play from Trent Green to Kennison set up the Chiefs' second score of the day in the second quarter.

 

Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae (1990-1993) agreed to a contract extension with the New York Jets just a day before the season-opener with Buffalo. The game also went down to the wire, as the Jets scored a 37-31 win in overtime at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Ochard Park, N.Y.

The game was the NFL debut for 2001 Biletnikoff Award winner Josh Reed (1999-2001), who finished with three catches for 44 yards in the Bills' loss.

 

Tampa Bay defensive tackle Anthony McFarland (1995-98) made two solo stops and four assists in the Buccaneers' 26-20 loss to New Orleans. He and Warren Sapp failed to generate much of a pass rush against the Saints' Aaron Brooks, who passed 42 times in the game and was sacked twice.

 

Cornerback Mark Roman had five tackles and one assist for Cincinnati in the Bengals' 34-6 loss to San Diego.

Chargers' kicker Wade Richey has been relegated to handling kickoffs and long-range field goals. Steve Christie took and made both short three-pointers against Cincinnati, and Richey didn't handle kickoffs until the second half.

 

Tigers in the NFL

- The following former LSU players were on active NFL rosters at the start of the 2002 season.

Name

Team

Pos.

Exp.

Josh Booty

Browns

QB

2

Ryan Clark

Giants

S

R

Rohan Davey

Patriots

QB

R

Alan Faneca

Steelers

OG

5

Kevin Faulk

Patriots

RB

4

Larry Foster

Lions

WR

3

Howard Green

Ravens

DT

R

Jarvis Green

Patriots

DE

R

Tory James

Raiders

CB

7

Eddie Kennison

Chiefs

WR

7

Clarence LeBlanc

Giants

S

2

Todd McClure

Falcons

C

4

Anthony McFarland

Buccaneers

DT

4

Kevin Mawae

Jets

C

9

Rondell Mealey

Packers

RB

3

Kenny Mixon

Vikings

DE

5

Marcus Price

Bills

OT

5

Josh Reed

Bills

WR

R

Wade Richey

Chargers

K

5

Mark Roman

Bengals

CB

3

Robert Royal

Redskins

TE

R

Denard Walker

Broncos

CB

6

Chuck Wiley

Vikings

DE

4

Louis Williams

Panthers

C

2


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