The 2012 NFL regular season is now in the books, with the playoffs set to begin next week. This season, 20 Missouri football alumni suited up in the NFL on an active roster – it’s time to check in on how each player performed.
Danario Alexander, WR- Danario Alexander started the year on the St. Louis Rams roster, before being cut right before the season began due to a knee injury. Alexander used the start of the season to get healthy as he rehabbed his knee. The San Diego Chargers signed the dynamic receiver right before their week 9 game against Kansas City and Alexander made an instant impact, catching three passes for 61 yards. Alexander emerged as the number 1 receiver in San Diego, finishing the year with 658 yards and seven touchdowns. The Chargers have Alexander in their future plans and the receiver has found a home in San Diego.
Tim Barnes, C- Tim Barnes began the year on the St. Louis Rams practice squad, but was quickly called up to the active roster in week 2. Barnes remained on the active roster for the rest of the season as the backup center. While he didn’t see any game action this season, Barnes provided depth for the Rams on the offensive line.
Beau Brinkley, LS- Beau Brinkley was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans. Once he arrived in Tennessee, Brinkley immediately stepped into the long snapper role. Brinkley played in all 16 games for the Titans and was perfect on his snaps. He even contributed five tackles in punt coverage over the course of the season.
Colin Brown, OL- Colin Brown began the season as a backup on the offensive line for the Buffalo Bills. Injuries forced Brown into a starting role in week 5, but he got hurt as well. The injury but Brown on IR for the rest of the season. Brown’s future in Buffalo is up in the air, but the lineman is valuable in the fact that he can play anywhere along the offensive line.
Chase Coffman, TE- Chase Coffman spent the preseason in Tampa Bay, but was cut by the Buccaneers before the season began. The Atlanta Falcons then signed Coffman as a member of their practice squad. Coffman was called up to the active roster before week 11 against the Cardinals. He made one catch for the Falcons in week 14 against Carolina, but was inactive the next two weeks. The tight end was active week 17 and hopes to remain on the roster for the playoffs, where the Falcons are the 1 seed in the NFC.
Chase Daniel, QB- Chase Daniel served as Drew Brees’ backup quarterback for the New Orleans Saints this season. Daniel was also the holder for the Saints on field goals. The quarterback only appeared under center in two games, and put up stats in only one of those games. Daniel played a series against Oakland in week 11. Chase completed his only pass attempt, while also scrambling for 17 yards. Eventually Daniel would like a starting job somewhere, but he is currently content as the backup for the Saints, learning behind Brees.
Michael Egnew, TE- Michael Egnew was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of this past NFL Draft. The tight end struggled adjusting to the NFL game, and spent most of the season the Dolphins practice squad. Egnew was active for the Dolphins last two regular season games, but failed to record any stats.
Blaine Gabbert, QB- Blaine Gabbert entered the season as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gabbert had an up and down season in Jacksonville, mostly struggling, but also showing flashes of quality quarterback play. Chad Henne replaced an injured or struggling Gabbert in quite a few games, but Blaine remained the starter until he was put on IR in week 12 after injuring his right forearm against Houston the previous week. Gabbert will have to fight to be the starter again next season, as the Jaguars are rumored to be a team looking for a quarterback in the offseason.
Andrew Gachkar, LB- Andrew Gachkar has found a place in the NFL, serving as a valuable special teams contributor and reserve linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. Gachkar was a quality special team player for San Diego this season, and appeared at the back end of the linebacker rotation on defense. Throughout the season, Gachkar accounted for 23 tackles, including a sack week 15 against Carolina. Gachkar is an up and coming linebacker and will warrant more playing time at the position for the Chargers next season.
Ziggy Hood, DE- Ziggy Hood spent the entire season as a starting defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hood has locked up a starting spot for the Steelers along the defensive line, and continually has been a force in the running game. This season, Hood racked up 42 total tackles, three sacks, and three passes defended. The big defensive lineman even blocked a field goal earlier in the season in week 8 against the Washington Redskins. Hood has always been reliable for the Steelers and should remain a starter for Pittsburgh for years to come.
Jerell Jackson, WR- Jerell Jackson signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent for the preseason. Jackson failed to make the team, and spent a majority of the season out of the league. When the Jaguars were looking for some depth at receiver, they signed Jackson to the practice squad in week 15. Last week, Jackson made his NFL debut for the Jaguars, but didn’t accumulate any stats.
Jeremy Maclin, WR- Jeremy Maclin is often the first name to come to mind when thinking about Mizzou in the NFL. Maclin has been a staple of the Philadelphia receiver core since being drafted by the Eagles in the first round four years ago. When DeSean Jackson was put on IR with an injury, Maclin instantly became the Eagles’ number one receiver. Maclin struggled with injuries of his own, causing a drop in performance much like the rest of the team. The receiver was still productive however, catching 69 passes for 857 yards and seven touchdowns.
William Moore, S- William Moore took a big step up this season, becoming one of the star playmakers of the Atlanta Falcons defense. Moore was a force to be reckoned with at the safety position, making 75 tackles, including one sack, forcing two fumbles, and even adding in four interceptions. Two of those interceptions came against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in week 13. Unfortunately, Moore got hurt in that game and has been out since. The safety hopes to come back for the No. 1 seeded Falcons playoff run this upcoming week.
C.J. Mosley, DT- C.J. Mosley was a productive part of the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line rotation this season. Mosley made 45 tackles this season, mostly as a run stuffer for the Jaguars. His most productive game was in week 11 against the Houston Texans, when he made seven tackles, including two of his two-and-a-half sacks on the year, and his lone forced fumble.
Martin Rucker, TE- Martin Rucker signed with Chiefs in the offseason, hoping to compete for the role of backup tight end. Unfortunately, Rucker tore his ACL during minicamp, ending his season before it even started. The Chiefs placed Rucker on IR and the tight end will be back next season in competition for that spot on the active roster.
Kevin Rutland, CB- Kevin Rutland had a very interesting sophomore season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rutland began the year as a backup corner for the Jags, but was cut during Jacksonville’s bye week in week 6. The Jaguars re signed Rutland in week 8 and he remained on the roster for the rest of the season in his backup corner role. Rutland racked up 10 tackles this season in spot duty for the Jaguars.
Aldon Smith, OLB- Aldon Smith was the face of Mizzou in the NFL this year. Without question, Smith was the most successful of Mizzou football alumni. A pass rushing dynamo, Smith got 19.5 sacks this season, just three shy of the NFL single season record. Additionally, Smith got 66 tackles, while also forcing three fumbles and catching an interception. Smith was rewarded with a spot in the Pro Bowl, but he has other thoughts in his mind, as his San Francisco 49ers are the 2 seed in the NFC for the playoffs.
Brad Smith, WR- Brad Smith did everything while playing for the Buffalo Bills this season. The former Tiger quarterback ran the ball, caught the ball, and returned kicks in Buffalo. Primarily a receiver, Smith was also the wildcat quarterback for the Bills. Smith rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown while also catching 22 yards for 152 yards and two more touchdowns. In the return game, Smith added another touchdown. Smith is an electric player that can score anytime he touches the ball, providing excitement to BIlls fans everywhere.
Justin Smith, DT- Justin Smith is the other half of what Jon Gruden likes to call “The Smith Brothers” in San Francisco. Justin works with fellow Mizzou alum Aldon in the 49ers pass rushing defensive game. Smith often frees up space along the defensive line because it requires more than one person to block him. Double teams didn’t stop Smith from making 66 tackles, three sacks, and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl, however. Smith missed the last two games of the regular season with a triceps injury, but should be good to for the 49ers playoff run after their first round bye.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB- Sean Weatherspoon was yet another successful player from Mizzou in the NFL this season. Weatherspoon is the leader of the Atlanta Falcons defense at the linebacker position. He racked up 95 tackles, including three sacks and a forced fumble and interception as well. Weatherspoon’s stats would have been better if he didn’t miss a month with an ankle injury. “Spoon” most likely would have earned a Pro Bowl trip without the injury, but will take the consolation of a number 1 seed for his Atlanta Falcons in the NFC for this year’s playoffs.