National Football League training camps are already underway as all 32 teams decide which players they want to carry onto their 53-man regular season rosters
Preseason games started last week, but teams will continue to make roster adjustments until the regular season kicks off in September. Though let’s not kid ourselves, aside from our own NFL teams, we only care about the former Syracuse Orange stars.
There are 12 former SU players on NFL rosters, so let’s check in on how all of them are faring with the regular season rapidly approaching.
Jay Bromley, DT / New Orleans Saints (camp: Metairie, La.)
After Bromley grew into a role player on the defensive line over four years with the Giants, he encountered a disappointing free agency, but landed with the Saints back in May. Bromley now has a chance this season to start fresh and maybe grow into a better role with a new franchise.
Riley Dixon, P / New York Giants (camp: East Rutherford, N.J.)
After two years with the Denver Broncos where Dixon averaged more than 45 yards per punt and earned all-rookie team honors in his first year, the Broncos apparently thought they could do better and traded the former Heisman candidate to the Giants. The Giants cut punter Brad Wing shortly before the deal, so it seems as if Dixon has the job practically locked up.
Amba Etta-Tawo, WR / New York Giants
After the earlier part of last season at Syracuse South down in Jacksonville, Etta-Tawo found his way to the Giants practice squad near the end of 2017. Now in the throws of preseason camp, he’s already making a great impression early on. This should not be all too unfamiliar to the Syracuse faithful, who witnessed him have an All-American caliber season in his lone year with the Orange.
Zaire Franklin, LB / Indianapolis Colts (camp: Westfield, Ind.)
Franklin became the first non-special teams Syracuse player taken in the NFL Draft since 2014 when the Colts selected him in the seventh round. Every linebacker spot is up for grabs, and Franklin has the mentality to fight for a job. He’s already off to a good start, as he was listed as the third-string middle linebacker in the Colts’ first unofficial depth chart.
Steve Ishmael, WR / Indianapolis Colts
While Franklin was drafted by the Colts this year, the Biletnikoff Award semifinalist was picked up by Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent. Ishmael has a chance to compete for a roster spot after breaking a number of school records at SU, but currently sits at 5th on the Colts depth chart at wideout.
Chandler Jones, LB / Arizona Cardinals (camp: Glendale, Ariz.)
After receiving a massive $83 million extension last offseason, Jones made Arizona’s investment worthwhile by racking up an NFL-leading 17 sacks in the 2017 campaign. Safe to say his job is secure. Likewise, with the retirement of Dwight Freeney, he undoubtedly holds the title of best ex-Orange player in the league.
Cameron Lynch, LB / Tampa Bay Buccaneers (camp: Tampa, Fla.)
Lynch once again played mostly special teams for Tampa in 2017, but performed well enough to earn himself another one-year contract with the team. Lynch is currently in the midst of a heated position battle with many other players for one of the team’s last linebacker spots.
Jamar McGloster, OL / Detroit Lions (camp: Allen Park, Mich.)
Another recent SU grad, McGloster had signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers before getting released last week. However, he signed another deal with the Lions just a few days later. McGloster could have a shot at the 53-man roster, but it’s likely he was brought on for some training camp depth.
Ervin Phillips, WR / Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like his counterpart Steve Ishmael, Phillips went undrafted this year. Fortunately for him, he gets to join former teammate Cam Lynch after getting picked up by the Bucs. Like Lynch, he is in a heated position battle, fighting it out for one or two open receiver spots on the Bucs roster.
Justin Pugh, G / Arizona Cardinals
After a long tenure with the Giants and a contract year riddled with injuries, Pugh packed for the desert this offseason after signing a five-year, $45 million deal with the Cardinals. For a rebuilding team like the Cardinals, Pugh will provide plenty of support as an anchor on the offensive line.
Shamarko Thomas, S / Indianapolis Colts
#SHAMARKO moved between the Jets and the Bills last season, racking up nine regular season tackles plus another couple in the Bills playoff matchup against the Jaguars. Now, Thomas has signed with the Colts. However, things aren’t looking too hot as he’s listed as the fourth-string free safety on the first depth chart and I don’t know of a team carrying four free safeties.
Andrew Tiller, G / New Orleans Saints
Tiller got cut at the end of preseason camp last season by the Kansas City Chiefs, which left him without an NFL home for over four months. The Saints, the team that first drafted Tiller in the sixth round back in 2012, eventually signed him to a reserves/futures contract back in January. The Saints have a rock-solid O-line, but Tiller could be in the mix to become one of the backups on the 53-man roster.