It's almost NFL time for Trojans

Catching up with a number of USC alums getting ready for the league.

Some of the more upbeat summer moments with the USC throwing sessions have been the chances to say "Hi" and "Goodbye" to Trojans heading off to the NFL and working out with their former teammates. J.R. Tavai, looking very good, was all smiles Friday as he talked about going back to Tennessee by the end of the month.

Which is our plan here: Taking a quick Trojan trip through the NFL this summer to see where things stand for a number of USC alums as they get ready for another NFL season.

*** Hayes Pullard, also at Friday's workout, said he couldn't be happier about his move to Cleveland. He loves what he's seen of the town on Lake Erie, although he has yet to be there in November -- or February. He signed a four-year deal worth an estimated $2.359 million with a $79,240 signing bonus according to Cleveland reports and will play both special teams and fill in as the No. 4 inside linebacker for a team that was very thin there.

*** Leonard Williams was there as well Friday and said he still hasn't bought a car and will keep Uber-ing it to the Jets' Florham Park facility from his place just 10 minutes away. And he's still getting rave reviews. Jets nose tackle Damon Harrison had this to say of his new D-line mate to NJ.com this week: “Damn good guy, heck of an athlete, freakish athlete,” Harrison said. “He picked up on what we’ve installed. He picked up on that pretty quick, so it’s allowed him to play faster than what other rookies have been doing. That’s a credit to him, man, because it’s not easy to learn an NFL defense. And he communicates with us. He talks. That’s one thing you don’t find in a lot of rookies. They’re quiet and they’re just trying to learn. He talks. He wants to know: ‘OK, what are you doing on this play?’ He’s trying to make sure he knows what you’re doing, so that he can adjust his game to that.”

*** Devon Kennard, after shaking his head at all the players he doesn't recognize, says he can't wait to get back to the Giants. At 6-3 and 252, he looks like he's exactly where he wants to be going into his second season as a starting outside linebacker. After working out with USC last week, he did a "Giants Uncut" video report for the team's official Website from a hot tub in the USC training room. He's considered one of the leading candidates for Giants "breakout player" this year after six-straight starts in the second half of his rookie season where he recorded 34 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Missed part of spring with a hamstring issue but Giants coaches have "high hopes" for his future according to beat writer Dan Salomone. “I think number one, he is more confident in himself as a player,” linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said. “He knows now he can play in the league. That takes you a long way.”

*** Buck Allen: Buck says he's saving his money, working on a good financial plan and happy as heck he landed in Baltimore, the way things are breaking for him. For those who weren't so sure of Buck as an inside runner who could do everything else, he couldn't have landed in a better place than with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, whose space-oriented offense that specializes in throwing the ball to running backs appears to suit Buck best. Better than Ravens holdovers Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett and much the way Matt Forte was used in catching 177 passes his last two years under Trestman with the Bears. Buck agrees: He could not have landed in a better place.

*** Nelson Agholor: According to Mark Eckel of the NJ Advance Media, after talking to an NFL exec, the Eagles have hit the jackpot with Nelson after missing badly on last year's first round pick, Marcus Smith, a linebacker who got just 68 snaps. "He should be good, real good,'' the executive said. "I'd bet on him,'' after running a 4.4 forty at 6-feet and 198 pounds. "He'll come in and produce right away. He has the right mentality and just a great approach to the game. He's going to help them. And in that offense, he'll put up numbers.''

*** Mark Sanchez: Staying with the Eagles, Sanchez was a top 10 fantasy producer at QB the second half of the season with his eight starts and now he's backing up a player, Sam Bradford, coming off two ACL surgeries and no cinch to be ready for the start of the season after being able to play in just 49 of the 80 games in his five seasons with an 18-30-1 record. And Sanchez has shown he can be productive in Chip Kelly's offense and has spent the summer working with Eagles receivers. Don't bet against him. "I mean you know what you're getting with Sanchez,'' the same NFL executive told Eckel. "He's certainly had higher highs in his career than Bradford has.''

*** Matt Barkley: The man on the bubble in Philly could be Matt after the Eagles signed Tim Tebow and there are those who think Kelly could be grooming Tebow for duties similar to what he did at Florida as a 235-pound running QB in short-yardage and goal-line situations who could also throw it if need be in an offense that could make use of him. Stay tuned.

*** Matt Kalil: With Matt recovering from arthroscopic surgery on both knees in the offseason, the Vikings moved their best guard, Brandon Fusco, next to him at left tackle which should help. Despite his chronic knee pain last year, Matt hasn't missed a start. But it was a tough year as the front office exercised his fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury only and makes this 2015 a big deal for Matt's future in Minnesota. But his head coach, Mike Zimmer, was positive about his attitude: "There was one week where I didn't know if he'd make it," Zimmer said. "He's never missed anything, always shows up and tries to fight as hard as he can for the guys. Personality wise, he understands he needs to play better. But there was never a time he let any of his teammates down by not showing and I think he missed two practices the whole year."

*** Jordan Cameron: Looks like the choice at Miami to step ahead of both Dion Sims and Charles Clay after the Dolphins signed him out of Cleveland. The big negative here has been the multiple concussions Jordan has had to fight through the past three seasons although he's fully healthy, ready to go and has a much better QB throwing to him now in Ryan Tannehill and he's just two years away from catching 80 balls and could get off to a big start in Miami.

*** Matt Cassel: Big, big year for Matt, acquired by the Bills to be their starter, but acording to Buffalo beat writer Vic Carucci, Cassel "doesn’t move well, he doesn’t always throw the prettiest ball, and has easily had the worst-looking practice performances of all of the [four] quarterbacks [including last year's disappointing starter E.J. Manuel. Still, he’s a smart, savvied, 11-year veteran." [Tyrod] Taylor is the best runner and an offseason acquisition at QB [Rex] Ryan has touted heavily." If Cassel gets it together, he could be in Buffalo for a long time. If not, he's going to be one of those one-year-here, one-year-somewhere-else guys for the rest of his career.

*** Reggie Bush: He'll be the receiving back with the 49ers his first year in San Francisco alternating with lead back Carlos Hyde after the departure of Frank Gore. He should much improve the 49ers' inability to target running backs where they were 31st in the NFL last year and should give Colin Kaepernick a guy who can catch the ball at last.

*** Carson Palmer: After knee surgery last fall, Carson was back on the field in 11 on 11 in the OTAs in Arizona and throwing the ball well to Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown and that's very good news for the Cardinals, who have been raving about Carson's ability to come back, take over and give this team a chance it didn't exactly have after Carson went down last year. The really good news is that Carson is conducting camp for his receivers right now at a high school near his home near Carslbad with Brown even staying at the Carson home. no problems with his knee. “I’m not even thinking about my knee,” Palmer said. “I’m still rehabbing just to be on the safe side of things but I don’t need to be at rehab. I’m full go in the weight room, full go on the field, and until it’s brought up, I haven’t thought about what I’m not doing because I’m doing everything I was doing.”

*** Silas Redd: Looks like Silas is the favorite over Chris Thompson for the No. 3 running back spot with the Redskins behind starter Alfred Morris and rookie third-round pick Matt Jones. Thompson may be faster but one report says that "Redd has more substance as a traditional rushing backup . . . and could end up taking Roy Helu's old role as the primary pass-catcher out of the backfield."

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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