We’re already four weeks into the NFL season, and many Syracuse Orange football alums are leaving their mark. Here’s all you need to know about how former Orangemen are performing at the professional level.
Nolan Cooney, Arizona Cardinals
The rookie punter was needed three times in Arizona’s blowout loss to San Francisco, averaging 39 yards per boot. Cooney has only put two of his 13 punts inside the 20-yard-line this season, tied for 29th best in the league. He’ll continue to get elevated reps with a struggling Cardinals offense.
Garrett Williams, Arizona Cardinals
According to head coach Jonathan Gannon, Williams is progressing in his recovery from a torn ACL. He’s eligible to return this upcoming week, but Gannon gave no clear timetable for the rookie’s return. Williams is considered day-to-day going forward and should make his NFL debut soon.
Matthew Bergeron, Atlanta Falcons
It was another average week on the offensive line for the rookie in a loss to Jacksonville across the pond. The good news is that Atlanta’s struggles aren’t entirely Bergeron’s fault. According to Pro Football Focus, Quarterback Desmond Ridder ranks dead last among all gunslingers, so a fresh face under center could help the guard moving forward.
Kingsley Jonathan, Buffalo Bills
The defensive lineman made the most of his seven snaps against Miami, tallying a hit on Tua Tagovailoa in Buffalo’s win. While not seeing much playing time, Jonathan has the tackling skills to be a starter on many other NFL teams.
Mikel Jones, Dallas Cowboys
After a successful workout yesterday, Jones announced on social media that he’s reached an agreement with the Cowboys. He previously participated in offseason workouts with the Chargers before being released and will now join Dallas’s practice squad.
Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos
The eight-year veteran was busy in Denver’s win over Chicago, averaging almost 41 yards per punt in his four attempts. Dixon’s posting the worst numbers of his career through four games but has five of his next seven games in the kicker-friendly Denver air.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Detroit Lions
Melifonwu made three tackles across 46 snaps in Detroit’s win over Green Bay while filling in for the injured Kerby Joseph and C.J. Gardner Johnson. The third-year safety has looked excellent in coverage, ranking 13-of-87 safeties in the league. He’ll continue to get playing time until both aforementioned starters return.
Chris Slayton, Green Bay Packers
Slayton remains on Green Bay’s practice squad. The Packers promoted two more practice squad players to their roster before last week’s game against Detroit, so Slayton could be next in line if any starting nose tackles get injured.
Zaire Franklin, Indianapolis Colts
With 12 more tackles over the weekend, Franklin leads the league with 57 through four games in that stat. He also notched half-a-sack in the loss, bringing his total to 1.5 takedowns. Despite these impressive numbers, PFF slots Franklin in at 27-of-78 qualified linebackers, with poor efficiency in coverage dragging his rating down.
Andre Cisco, Jacksonville Jaguars
Cisco posted his best defensive rating last weekend against Atlanta, racking up four tackles and an interception in a Jags win. He also allowed zero receiving yards and has skyrocketed to PFF’s third-best safety of 87 qualified. The budding star will face his toughest test this week when the Bills travel to London Town.
Trishton Jackson, Minnesota Vikings
Jackson returned to Minnesota’s practice squad following the Vikings’ Week 3 loss to the Chargers. Like Slayton, injuries to starters look like the only chance for Jackson to touch the gridiron.
Justin Pugh, New York Giants
After starting his own podcast in September, Pugh shared yesterday that the Giants have signed him to their practice squad. The veteran guard was in the free-agent portal this entire offseason and ended up getting another crack with the G-Men, the team he played with from 2013-2017. Be on the lookout for an update promoting Pugh to New York’s active roster.
Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not good news for Tucker, who didn’t appear in Tampa Bay’s Week 4 win over the Saints. Ke’Shawn Vaughn served as the backup halfback instead, recording 16 rushing yards behind Rachaad White. Tucker’s still listed as second on the Buccaneers’ official depth chart, so we’ll see if he has a more significant role this week against Detroit.