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Orange in the NFL: Recapping week 6 for Syracuse football alumni

Hopping straight off the couch and onto the field

Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

One-third of the 2023 NFL season is in the books. While the current Syracuse Orange football team hasn’t had success in recent weeks, many alums are shining under the bright lights for their professional teams. Let’s see how your former Orangemen are doing at the next level.

Nolan Cooney, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals cut the rookie punter after four games, opting to roll with veteran Blake Gillikan instead. Cooney finished his first NFL stint averaging 45.5 yards across 13 punts, two of which landed inside the 20-yard line.

Garrett Williams, Arizona Cardinals

Williams still hasn’t been activated from the reserve/NFI list as he rehabs his torn ACL from last season. The good news is that he’s participated in practice for three straight weeks, so the former SU cornerback should make his NFL debut soon.

Matthew Bergeron, Atlanta Falcons

The rookie put together his second-best game of the year last week against the Commanders with a Pro Football Focus rating of 58.4. The Falcons have thrown Bergeron right into the fire at left guard, and he leads all rookie guards with 417 offensive snaps. Expect the rook to settle in with more consistent quarterback play by Desmond Ridder.

Kingsley Jonathan, Buffalo Bills

Jonathan needs to play more to qualify for any statistical category, but he’s looking elite in a small sample size. In 26 snaps against Jacksonville, the defensive lineman recorded three pressures, one sack, two hurries and one tackle. If he keeps up this pace, the Bills may have no choice but to start him on their already stacked defensive line.

Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos

If you watched Thursday Night Football last week, you saw the eight-year veteran a good amount. Dixon added five boots, averaging a tick under 45 yards. There’s been mixed results so far for the Mile High punter, who’s put over 30% of his attempts inside the 20, but is averaging his lowest yards per punt (44.2) in his career.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, Detroit Lions

Melifonwu shifted to the bench following the return of injured safeties Kerby Joseph and C.J. Gardner Johnson. He looked solid in his three games in the secondary, making eight tackles while posting the highest tackling and coverage grades of his career. Expect Melifonwu to fill the void if either starter goes down again.

Chris Slayton, Green Bay Packers

Slayton remains on Green Bay’s practice squad. It looks like time’s running out for the 27-year-old to make his NFL debut, as he’s tied for the oldest player on the Packers’ secondary team. But if any starting nose tackles hit the shelf, Slayton might get the call-up.

Zaire Franklin, Indianapolis Colts

One of the NFL’s best linebackers, eight more tackles last weekend puts Franklin at a league-best 77 through six weeks. His other numbers don’t jump off the charts, with just 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble, but every team needs a good tackler. Despite this, his overall PFF numbers have improved slightly from last year, slotting him 54th of 83 linebackers.

Andre Cisco, Jacksonville Jaguars

The safety grabbed his third interception of the season on Sunday, which is tied for tops in the NFL. Cisco ranks fifth of 86 qualified safeties and eighth in run defense and coverage.

Trishton Jackson, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings waived Jackson yesterday, according to their transaction log. If no other team claims him by the time you’re reading this, he’ll become a free agent and can sign with any team. Before his departure with Minnesota, Jackson saw only five snaps on offense and eight on special teams over two games.

Justin Pugh, New York Giants

Quickly promoted from the practice squad, Pugh made his season debut last weekend against the Bills on Sunday Night Football. But more importantly, the veteran put together one of the funniest player intros of all time. Looks like he’s settling in just fine to his old stomping ground.

Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tucker has disappeared entirely from Tampa’s offense and hasn’t played since Week 3. He’s also been bumped to the third-string halfback on the Bucs depth chart behind Rachaad White and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. After notching just 23 yards on 15 carries, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. His time in the Sunshine State might be running out.