Roundup: Cougs in NFL training camps

FALL CAMP is right around the corner for the Cougars, but NFL teams have already resumed the grind at their own training camps. Here’s an updated look at how former Cougars are faring in the early days of preparation for the upcoming pro season.

Deone Bucannon: The former Washington State safety is looking like a first-round draft pick should. His potential was seen on Tuesday when he delivered yet another bone-crushing hit, this time to an NFL teammate, and was called out at practice for it. Soon after that, Bucannon intercepted a ball with one hand and returned it to the end zone. As a rookie, he is showing versatility as well. Because the Cardinals won’t have the services of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, the Cardinals have a need at the linebacker position. Bucannon has stepped in nicely and has shown he can play there and at his native safety position.

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John Fullington: Fullington will have to compete for a spot on the offensive line this year with 14 other players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. Eleven of those players return from last year, three are newcomers. After a few days of training camp, the potential center, J.C. Tretter, has shown some vulnerabilities. This could lead to some shifting in the offensive line, which would possibly give Fullington an opening to play and show off his skills.

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Andrew Furney: The kicker is stuck behind Nick Folk on the depth chart, and so his role right now is being a practice guy with the team. There is a possibility the team could carry him as a backup kicker, but as of right now, it seems far more likely that he will be cut. The question then becomes if another team has a need at the position.

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Jeff Tuel: The backup quarterback for the 2014 Buffalo Bills is anyone’s guess at this point. Tuel is competing with Thad Lewis for the second-string role behind starter E.J. Manuel. Tuel has shown bright spots in practice by moving the offense down the field with successful plays, but has also shown he can turn the ball over late in drives. Lewis is receiving most of the time with the second-team unit, and he appears to hold the advantage in the backup battle.

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Travis Long: Long is battling to make the roster this season. He bided his time on the practice squad last season, and is now ready to make a push for a place on the squad that plays on Sundays. Fellow linebacker Brandon Graham stands in his way. Graham rushes the passer better than Long, but the fact that Long has played more positions (linebacker and defensive end) in college means more versatility. Philly head man Chip Kelly places a large emphasis on special teams performance, and that is where Graham struggled last year. That could be the opening Long needs to land a job on the team this year.

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Marquess Wilson: As Wilson gains more familiarity with quarterback Jay Cutler, it is becoming more likely that he will get a shot at the No. 3 wide receiver position this season, behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Close on his tail is Josh Morgan, who is also taking reps in practice and performing well. Wilson has said that he needs to be able to get open in order for Cutler to trust him, and he has delivered on some of the times he has been targeted, even in tight coverage. Wilson’s height of 6-4 has helped him get open as well. However, he has also shown he can be forced off of a route.

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Jed Collins (pictured): He’s experienced and he blocks well. Both of those things make Collins the ideal choice for the Lions at the fullback position this year. Collins is competing with Montell Owens, who is 30 pounds lighter than Collins, and who has been bugged by a knee injury during the preseason last year. Meanwhile, Collins took 449 snaps on offense last year in New Orleans.

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Husain Abdullah: The starting job looks like it’s Abdullah’s at the moment, who will likely be playing alongside Eric Berry at the safety position. Sean Smith, who is highly regarded as the Kansas City Chiefs’ best cornerback, has been taking reps with the second team, and the backup safety, Sanders Commings, has stayed on the sidelines because of a foot injury. Abdullah’s experience will prove valuable in the early going of training camp and beyond.

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Ropati Pitoitua: The larger-than-life defensive end has been running with the first team in camp but head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said that the depth chart isn’t a strong indicator for who will be starting in the regular season. At 6-8 and almost 300 pounds, Pitoitua was working alongside Jurrell Casey and Sammie Hill as early as day one of training camp. At this point, Casey has demonstrated that he is the most formidable pass rusher on the team.

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Brandon Gibson: The slot receiver for the Miami Dolphins looks ready to remain a starter this season. However, because of a torn ACL last season, coaches have to keep a close eye on him during camp. On the third day of training camp, Gibson participated in his first practice with pads since injuring his knee, but left early, only to return to the sideline wearing casual clothes. The receiving group is deep this season, but the Dolphins seem like they are in protective mode when it comes to allowing Gibson to fully recover from his injury. Rookie Jarvis Landry is waiting in the wings if Gibson experiences any setbacks.

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