NFL Cougar Highlights: Week Five

NOT SINCE Drew Bledsoe took his final professional snap as a Dallas Cowboy in 2006 has a Washington State quarterback thrown a regular season pass in the NFL. That drought ended this past Thursday when Jeff Tuel stepped in for injured Buffalo starter EJ Manuel.

History is full of rookie quarterbacks and inauspicious beginnings. Consider that the greatest of them all—Baltimore Colt QB Johnny Unitas—saw his first-ever pass returned 59 yards by Chicago's J.C. Caroline for a pick-six. Fellow Hall of Famer John Elway completed just one of 8 pass attempts and threw an interception in his first start for Denver.

So toss in the fact that Tuel's first game experience came cold off the bench--and well into the third quarter--and it's not actually a shocker that his maiden voyage hit some rough seas. Namely an 8 for 20 performance and a painful pick-six on the Bills potential game-tying—and final—drive in their loss to Cleveland.

What does come as a shocker is Buffalo's haste in pulling the plug on Tuel after such a small sampling. Is this not the same undrafted QB they thought enough of to sign? Were they not impressed by his camp and preseason performance as to make him their number two QB?

Apparently that was just an illusion, as the Bills sent out feelers to seemingly every former NFL quarterback this side of Gale Gilbert and Marty Domres before promoting their practice squad passer—Thad Lewis—to the starting spot for next Sunday's tilt with Cincinnati.

Here's how the NFL Cougs performed in week five:

Husain Abdullah, CB, Kansas City, 5th season: Posted one tackle in the Chiefs' 26-17 defeat of Tennessee.

Jed Collins, FB, New Orleans, 5th season: Caught four passes for 17 and ran the ball 3 times for another 11 in the Saints' 28-16 victory against Chicago.

Brandon Gibson, WR, Miami, 5th season: The Puyallup native caught four passes for 76 yards in the Dolphins' 26-23 loss to Baltimore.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets, 4th season: Carried the ball four times for 27 yards in the Jets' 30-28 victory against Atlanta on Monday.

Rian Lindell, K, Tampa Bay, 14th season: Did not play; bye week.

Travis Long, LB, Philadelphia, 1st year: Did not play; assigned to the Eagles' practice squad.

Ropati Pitoitua, DE, Tennessee, 5th season: The Tacoma native recorded four tackles (3 solo)—including a QB sack—in the Titans' fall to the Chiefs.

Jeff Tuel, QB, Buffalo, Rookie: Completed 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards and one interception in the Bills' 34-27 loss to Cleveland.

Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago, Rookie: Active for the first time as a pro, but no recorded stats from the Bears' loss to the Saints.

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