NFL teams have been holding minicamps and other offseason training activities, so let’s take a look at where former Arizona Wildcats stand as everyone gears up for the start of training camp in late July:
Mike Bell, RB, Philadelphia
Earned a Super Ring with New Orleans last season — leading the Saints in carries during the regular season (172 for 654 yards) — before signing a one-year free-agent deal with the Eagles worth $1.7 million. He is expected to back up second-year pro LeSean McCoy and be a more powerful change of pace.
Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago
The five-time Pro Bowl pick will be going for his seventh consecutive 100-tackle season as he welcomes back Brian Urlacher to the Bears’ linebacker corps this season. He’s a popular teammate and popular in the Windy City … hey, how else do you get chosen to be a judge at Chicago’s version of Playboy’s 50th Anniversary Party.
Eben Britton, OT, Jacksonville
A 2009 second-round pick, Britton started 15 games at right tackle last season and looks to be a fixture on the Jags’ offensive line, along with fellow second-year pro Eugene Monroe at left tackle.
Copeland Bryan, DE, Detroit
He was signed by the Lions last year after being cut from Buffalo at the end of training camp. He played in five games for Detroit, starting one, making five tackles, including one sack.
Antoine Cason, CB, San Diego
The Chargers traded Antonio Cromartie, so they expect Cason, who has been a nickel back, to take over as a starting cornerback. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune blogged recently that Cason “is having an excellent offseason. He is always on the ball, is blanketing receivers, knows what he’s doing. Of course, he hasn’t been going against Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd (until recently) or even Legedu Naanee.” For sure, check out this great story from Acee in April, talking about how Cason spent several weeks training in Tucson with a UA assistant track coach.
Lionel Dotson, DE, Miami
Was on the Dolphins’ roster all of last season, but was mostly inactive on game days, appearing in two games. The 2008 seventh-round pick again will be fighting for a roster spot in training camp.
Nick Folk, PK, New York Jets
Folk was super in his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, making 46 of 53 field goal attempts and earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in 2007. But he had hip surgery after the 2008 season, struggling to regain his form. The Cowboys cut him in December, and then Folk signed with the Jets in February.
Chris Gronkowski, FB, Dallas
He is versatile as a blocker and pass-catcher, willing to do the blue-collar work. Coach Wade Phillips told DallasCowboys.com, “We’ll see when we get the pads on, but he looks good so far.”
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
The second-round rookie is helping to remake the position in New England, which also drafted Florida’s Aaron Hernandez in the fourth round. While Hernandez is considered more of a pure pass-catcher, Gronkowski has all-around tight end skills and, according to Patriots.com, made the play of the day at a recent full-squad scrimmage on a pass from Tom Brady.
Chris Henry, RB, Houston
He was the 50th overall pick in the 2007, drafted by Tennessee because of his excellent workout at the scouting combine rather than his production on the field. Henry got little use in his first two years, and the Titans released him early last season. He landed with the Houston Texans, but did not have a carry. He’s competing for a roster spot this summer.
Chris Jennings, RB, Cleveland
Jennings has been a nice success story, walking-on to Arizona as a junior college transfer and becoming productive in the running and passing games. Undrafted, he was playing in the Canadian Football League last season when the Browns called, and Jennings was able to stick with the team, rushing 63 times for 220 yards. He’ll be facing a roster crunch at running back in training camp.
Michael Johnson, FS, N.Y. Giants
He won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in the 2007 season and became a starter in 2008, but neither he nor the team’s secondary was stellar in 2009. Considering the Giants signed ex-Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle to a five-year, $37 million contract, have youngster Kenny Phillips and veteran Deon Grant, and used a third-round pick on LSU safety Chad Jones … Johnson’s days in New York might be numbered.
Spencer Larsen, FB, Denver
The former All-Pac-10 linebacker was a two-way player for his first two seasons in Denver, famously starting at fullback and at linebacker as a rookie. Now, he will be exclusively an offensive player … and you can be sure he’ll do it with a great attitude. “Football is football,” he told reporters earlier this month. “A lot of it is the same techniques. Linebackers have a different personality but to me it is all football. By doing this, I can still be a special teams member and it is something I care about.”