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Ex-Cats in the NFL: Firsts for Foles, Criner; injury for Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski was injured while blocking on an extra-point attempt. Photo by Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

It was the most eventful Sunday of the season for former Arizona Wildcats in the NFL.

Let’s start with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The All-Pro, near the end of a brilliant game in which he had seven catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns, suffered a broken left forearm while blocking for an extra point.

He is expected to be out 4-to-6 weeks, which should put him back in time for the playoffs, at the latest.

Gronkowski has 53 receptions for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games this season.

It also was an unhappy day for rookie quarterback Nick Foles, making his first start with the Philadelphia Eagles, replacing Michael Vick (concussion). Foles was intercepted on his first two possessions and struggled through a 31-6 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Foles completed 21 of 46 passes for 204 yards, with no touchdowns.

“I didn’t play well at all. I know it,” he told reporters after the game (video here).

“Tomorrow is another day and an opportunity to get better. … I’ve played bad games before. This is one of them.”

Philly fans had hoped Foles was the savior … but, hey, it was just one game. The Eagles are a mess right now at 3-7, having lost six in a row. They have a ton of issues other than quarterback and could soon (OK, almost certainly) be looking for a new coach.

Meanwhile, Foles’ favorite target at Arizona, the Oakland Raiders’ Juron Criner, made the first touchdown catch of his NFL career. The rookie fifth-rounder, who routinely made difficult catches in the end zone at Arizona, made an over-the-shoulder catch along the sideline for a 3-yard score (video here).

Criner has seven catches this season — five in the past two weeks.

In other ex-Cat news, the Cleveland Browns added defensive end Ricky Elmore to their practice squad last week. Elmore, a sixth-round pick of Green Bay in 2011, was released from the Arizona Cardinals practice squad in September.

This is Elmore’s fifth team.

Here is the list of former Arizona Wildcats in the NFL:

–Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago
–Eben Britton, OL, Jacksonville
–Antoine Cason, CB, San Diego
–Juron Criner, WR, Oakland
–Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia
–Nick Folk, PK, New York Jets
–Robert Golden, DB, Pittsburgh
–Chris Gronkowski, FB, Denver
–Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
–Earl Mitchell, DT, Houston
–Brooks Reed, OLB, Houston
–D’Aundre Reed, DE, Minnesota
–Mike Thomas, WR, Detroit
–Trevin Wade, CB, Cleveland

Practice squad
–WR David Douglas (New York Giants)
–OLB Ricky Elmore (Cleveland)

–C Colin Baxter (San Diego)
–WR Gino Crump (Arizona)
–DE Lionel Dotson (Buffalo)
–OL Adam Grant (Denver)
–TE Fendi Onobun (Buffalo)
–LB Paul Vassallo (Arizona)

Injured reserve
–LB Spencer Larsen (New England)
–DB Nate Ness (Carolina)

Juron Criner

Juron Criner (right) celebrates his touchdown catch with Oakland Raiders receiver Rod Streater. Photo by Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

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