Buckeyes Filling NFL Camps

Another NFL preseason is upon us with no shortage of former Ohio State football players trying to make their way in the league that pays for play. BuckeyeSports.com has a look at some of the stories that have unfolded in the offseason and will continue to play out in preseason camps across the country.

At the dawn of the preseason, no position has more former Buckeyes in the NFL than linebacker (nine) while the most popular spot on offense is wide receiver (eight).

Of the receivers group, there is no shortage of stories or potential starters, but the player who made the most headlines at the position during the offseason will not be in the lineup at all when the regular season begins in September. That is because Santonio Holmes will miss the first four games of the regular season while sitting out a suspension for failing the league's substance-abuse policy. He is eligible for all preseason activities with his new team, the New York Jets, who traded for him in April.

Elsewhere in the same division, Brian Hartline hopes to win a starting spot in his second season with the Dolphins, but he will no longer call Ted Ginn Jr. a teammate. After three largely disappointing seasons by South Beach, Ginn was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, where he has received praise from the coaching staff and hopes to make a mark on offense as well as special teams in the return game.

As for linebacker, the most noteworthy development comes from St. Louis, where the Rams have four Buckeyes toiling at the position. The Dallas Cowboys traded Bobby Carpenter to the Rams in May, where the 2006 first-round pick joined recent free-agent signee Na'il Diggs. Carpenter and Diggs joined a roster that already included James Laurinaitis and Larry Grant, holdovers from last season.

Thanks to four position changes, the next most-populous positions in the league are defensive end and safety.

Ryan Pickett and Vernon Gholston made the move at the former position, while second-year pros Donald Washington and Malcolm Jenkins are new at the latter.

Despite moving to the same position, Pickett and Gholston's situations could hardly be more similar aside from both being able to call themselves former first-round picks now playing in a 3-4 defense.

Pickett moves to defensive end after a largely lauded season at nose guard for the Green Bay Packers, who would like to make way for 2009 first-round pick B.J. Raji while maintaining Pickett's massive (6-2, 340-pound) frame to stuff the run on one side of the line.

Meanwhile, Gholston moved from linebacker to defensive end and took a paycut in hopes of making an impact in New York after the Jets made him a top-10 pick in 2008 but have yet to see any yield on their gamble he could convert from 4-3 college end to 3-4 pro linebacker.

As for safety, neither Washington or Jenkins is expected to start this season, although Jenkins received plenty of first-team reps during offseason activities as veteran Darren Sharper sat out rehabbing an injury.

Here's a further look by the numbers:

Total players in NFL camps to start this preseason

Quarterback: Troy Smith (Baltimore)

Running back: Beanie Wells (Arizona)

Long snapper: Kevin Houser (Seattle)

Tight ends: Jake Ballard (New York Giants), Ben Hartsock (New York Jets)

Kickers: Mike Nugent (Cincinnati), Aaron Pettrey (Detroit)

Cornerbacks: Nate Clements (San Francisco), Chris Gamble (Carolina), Antoine Winfield (Minnesota), Ashton Youboty (Buffalo)

Offensive linemen: Kirk Barton (Denver), Alex Boone (San Francisco), Nick Mangold (New York Jets), Rob Sims (Detroit), Jim Cordle (New York Giants)

Safeties: Will Allen (Pittsburgh), Kurt Coleman (Philadelphia), Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans), Donnie Nickey (Tennessee), Donald Washington (Kansas City), Donte Whitner (Buffalo), Anderson Russell (Washington)

Defensive ends: Vernon Gholston (New York Jets), Ryan Pickett (Green Bay), Jay Richardson (Oakland), Robert Rose (Seattle), Darrion Scott (Washington), Will Smith (New Orleans), Doug Worthington (Pittsburgh), Robert Rose (Seattle)

Wide receivers: Joey Galloway (Washington), Ted Ginn (San Francisco), Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis), Brian Hartline (Miami), Santonio Holmes (New York Jets), Michael Jenkins (Atlanta), Brian Robiskie (Cleveland), Ray Small (Minnesota)

Linebackers: Bobby Carpenter (St. Louis), Na'il Diggs (St. Louis), Thaddeus Gibson (Pittsburgh), Larry Grant (St. Louis), A.J. Hawk (Green Bay), James Laurinaitis (St. Louis), Austin Spitler (Miami), Mike Vrabel (Kansas City), Matt Wilhelm (San Francisco)

Veteran players on new teams: Will Allen (Pittsburgh), Kirk Barton (Denver), Bobby Carpenter (St. Louis), Na'il Diggs (St. Louis), Joey Galloway (Washington), Ted Ginn Jr. (49ers), Santonio Holmes (New York Jets), Mike Nugent (Cincinnati), Darrion Scott (Washington), Rob Sims (Detroit)

Players at new positions: Vernon Gholston (linebacker to defensive end), Malcolm Jenkins (cornerback to safety), Ryan Pickett (nose guard to end), Donald Washington (cornerback to safety)

Projected starters: Bobby Carpenter, Nate Clements, Na'il Diggs, Chris Gamble, Ted Ginn Jr., A.J. Hawk, Michael Jenkins, James Laurinaitis, Nick Mangold, Ryan Pickett, Rob Sims, Will Smith, Mike Vrabel, Donte Whitner, Antoine Winfield

Rookie free agents: Ballard, Cordle, Pettrey, Rose, Small and Russell

Other potential starters: Hartline, Holmes, Robiskie, Wells

Returning from season-ending injury: Barton, Clements, Gonzalez

Stay with BuckeyeSports.com throughout the preseason for updates on these Buckeyes and many more throughout the league. We will be tracking them here on the Ask the Insiders message board, your No. 1 spot to discuss Ohio State sports.

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