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Orange in the NFL: Recapping week 16 for Syracuse football alumni

A safety snaps a 30-year skid

NFL: DEC 24 Lions at Vikings Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL’s regular season is coming to a close, and many Syracuse Orange alumni are competing to play in the postseason. Here’s the latest rundown of how the former Orangemen are performing at football’s highest level heading into week 17.

Garrett Williams, Arizona Cardinals

The rookie is again dealing with a knee injury after beginning the season on the injured reserve with a torn ACL. Williams was ruled out for Arizona’s week 16 matchup, but the injury doesn’t appear to be significant. His next chance to take the field will be Sunday against Philadelphia.

Matthew Bergeron, Atlanta Falcons

Bergeron allowed two pressures and no sacks across 63 snaps in Atlanta’s win over Indianapolis last week. He still hasn’t allowed a quarterback sack since week 10 and ranks third amongst all eligible rookie offensive guards with a 59.4 rating, according to Pro Football Focus.

Kingsley Jonathan, Buffalo Bills

Jonathan’s seen an uptick in playing time on Buffalo’s defensive line after an injury to starting edge rusher A.J. Epenesa. Over 16 snaps the past two weeks, the second-year man registered one tackle while splitting reps with fellow backup Shaq Lawson. Jonathan could have an elevated role once again if Epenesa can’t go Sunday against New England.

Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos

Dixon tied a season-high with seven punts in Denver’s Christmas Eve loss to New England. He averaged 43 yards across those boots and placed two inside the 20-yard line. The eight-year vet ranks seventh among all punters, 69 attempts through 16 weeks.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, Detroit Lions

It was a career day for Melifonwu in Minnesota last weekend. The safety recorded a career-high two sacks and made even more history with his first career interception to seal the win for Detroit. His pick gave the Lions their first-ever NFC North division title and first division championship in 30 years. Melifonwu has quickly shot up the PFF ranks and is now graded as the league’s seventh-best safety.

Zaire Franklin, Indianapolis Colts

With 12 more tackles last week, the linebacker now leads the league in that department with 161. It’ll be a tight race until the finish line in two weeks as Jacksonville’s Foyesade Oluokun trails by just one. His next chance to add to his stats comes Sunday afternoon at home against Las Vegas.

Andre Cisco, Jacksonville Jaguars

Cisco returned to the field in week 16 after missing one game with a groin injury. He registered one tackle in 38 snaps and allowed two receptions for 34 yards in a loss to Tampa Bay. Injuries might be taking their toll on the safety, who has been held without an interception after tallying three over Jacksonville’s first six games.

Trishton Jackson, Minnesota Vikings

Jackson hasn’t seen any action in Minnesota’s offense since week 10 and returned to the team’s practice squad a few weeks ago. With an expiring contract at the end of the season, the future for the former 2020 undrafted free agent is entirely up in the air.

Tommy DeVito, New York Giants

The Italian took a back seat to quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the second half of New York’s loss to Philadelphia on Christmas. DeVito struggled over the past two weeks, totaling 232 passing yards with no touchdowns across six quarters before his benching. It’s already been announced that Taylor will start this upcoming week against the Rams, so DeVito’s short time in the spotlight could be coming to a close.

Justin Pugh, New York Giants

The veteran offensive guard blocked for whichever quarterback was under center on Monday, allowing no sacks in the loss. Despite this success, Pugh has given up 32 pressures while posting career lows in pass (36.5) and run-blocking (48) grades over his 10 games.

Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tucker was listed as active but didn’t see the field in Tampa’s win over Jacksonville last week. The first-year running back has yet to play since week 10 and hasn’t taken a carry since week 3. With Rachaad White’s emergence and veteran Chase Edmonds back in the RB mix, Tucker’s season is likely done after tallying 15 carries for 23 yards.