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NFL season begins with 27 former Huskers on rosters

NFL season begins with 27 former Huskers on rosters

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The first NFL game of the season will have a heavy Husker feel.

The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. on NBC. There are six former Huskers on the active rosters for this game — three on each team. No other teams in the league have more than two ex-Nebraska players.

Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh and Khalil Davis are all back in Tampa Bay after helping lift the Lombardi Trophy last season. Randy Gregory, Luke Gifford and Matt Farniok will all be in uniform for the Cowboys.

They're in the group of 27 former Huskers on NFL rosters to open the season. That includes 17 on active rosters, eight on practice squads, one on injured reserve and one more on the exempt list.

Here's a rundown of all the ex-Huskers currently in the league:

Active rosters

Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans: Injured his knee in November and signed with Houston as a free agent this offseason on a one-year contract. The Texans are his third NFL team as he enters his ninth season. He's part of a crowded backfield in Houston.

Cethan Carter, Miami Dolphins: Undrafted in 2017, Carter played in 46 games — with five starts in 2020 — over three seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a three-year contract with the Dolphins this offseason.

Maliek Collins, Houston Texans: A former third-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, Collins is on his third NFL team entering his sixth season. He played in 12 games for the Raiders last year. He's on a one-year contract with the Texans and is listed on the depth chart as a starter at defensive tackle.

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Entering his 10th NFL season, all with the Bucs, he signed a new two-year contract during the offseason. David was second-team All-Pro last year after helping Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl. 

Carlos Davis, Pittsburgh Steelers: Davis got in seven games during his rookie season in 2020. He enters 2021 as a backup defensive end for the Steelers.

Khalil Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The sixth-round draft pick played in four games last year during his rookie season, including two appearances in the postseason. 

Matt Farniok, Dallas Cowboys: The seventh-round draft pick made the active roster as a rookie and is listed as the third-string center on the Dallas depth chart.

Nick Gates, New York Giants: Gates went undrafted in 2018 then spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve. He's appeared in all 32 games over the last two seasons though, and played every offensive snap in 2020. He enters this season as a team captain and the starting center.

Luke Gifford, Dallas Cowboys: Undrafted in 2019, he's played in 14 games over two seasons for the Cowboys with nearly all of his work coming on special teams. He's a backup linebacker on the depth chart.

Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys: Gregory enters this season free of any suspensions or health issues and has big expectations. He recorded 3.5 sacks in 10 games last season and will start at defensive end.

Richie Incognito, Las Vegas Raiders: Incognito missed almost all of last season due to injury, but he's back in 2021 and listed as the Raiders' starting left guard.

Brenden Jaimes, Los Angeles Chargers: The fifth-round draft pick made the roster as a rookie, but he'll likely be a backup this season.

Andy Janovich, Cleveland Browns: The former walk-on turned NFL draft pick enters his sixth NFL season and his second as Cleveland's fullback.

Sam Koch, Baltimore Ravens: The 39-year-old Koch enters his 16th season with the Ravens. Last season he missed a game for the first time in his career.

Stanley Morgan, Cincinnati Bengals: The former undrafted free agent is now in his third season with the Bengals. He's appeared in 17 games and recorded three career catches. Most of his playing time has come on special teams.

Jack Stoll, Philadelphia Eagles: Perhaps one of the bigger roster surprises in the NFL, Stoll made the 53-man active roster as an undrafted rookie. 

Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Suh finally won a Super Bowl in his 11th NFL season, and he re-upped with the Bucs on another one-year contract. 

Practice squads

Ameer Abdullah, Minnesota Vikings: He's entering his seventh NFL season and has played in every game for the Vikings the last two years. He's on the practice squad for now.

Dicaprio Bootle, Kansas City Chiefs: A late cut in training camp, Bootle makes the practice squad as an undrafted rookie.

Darrion Daniels, San Francisco 49ers: Undrafted in 2020, Daniels also spent last season on the 49ers' practice squad.

Nathan Gerry, San Francisco 49ers: A fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, he won a Super Bowl there in 2017 and played in 52 total games with 23 starts over four seasons. He signed a one-year deal with San Francisco in March but was released a few months later, then was re-added to the practice squad this week.

Lamar Jackson, New York Jets: Jackson got in 13 games with six starts for the Jets during his rookie season, but he's on the practice squad for now.

Chris Jones, Tennessee Titans: Undrafted in 2018, Jones has played in 22 career NFL games with six starts between the Arizona Cardinals (13 appearances between 2018 and '19), Detroit Lions (one in 2020) and Minnesota Vikings (eight in 2020). He signed with the Titans in the offseason but didn't make the active roster, so he'll start on the practice squad.

Devine Ozigbo, Jacksonville Jaguars: Ozigbo has played in 18 games over the last two seasons for the Jaguars, but he appears set to start this season on the practice squad.

De'Mornay Pierson-El, Denver Broncos: He's bounced from the Canadian Football League, to the Alliance of American Football and even to the XFL. Now he's got another NFL opportunity. 


Joshua Kalu, New York Giants (injured reserve): Tore his pectoral muscle in a preseason game and is out for the season. Undrafted in 2018, he was a special teams regular in Tennessee the last three seasons.

Alex Lewis, New York Jets (exempt): Lewis is still listed on the Jets roster but is expected to retire from football. He played in 44 games for the Jets from 2016-20.

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