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October 15, 2013

Irish in the NFL

Of the 27 former Notre Dame players on active NFL rosters, 20 saw action this week, concluding with San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o’s five tackles and Indianapolis Colts safety Sergio Brown’s one takedown Monday night.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings, 3rd year: The most-consistent contributor of the five former Irish players at “Notre Dame North,” Rudolph has scored two touchdowns this season and started every Vikings’ game at tight end. Despite catching passes from a revolving door of quarterbacks, Rudolph pulled in nine touchdown passes last season after scoring three times his rookie season. He has already notched 100 catches in his young career.

John Carlson, TE, Minnesota Vikings, 6th year: Playing second-fiddle at the tight end position to Rudolph’s first chair does not leave many chances for Carlson, but the veteran has played in each of the Vikings’ games this season, catching five passes for 26 yards. In his two seasons in Minnesota, Carlson’s role has been drastically reduced after being the featured tight end with the Seattle Seahawks in his first three seasons.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals, Rookie: Eifert has yet to establish a firm grasp of the starting job with the Bengals as fourth-year veteran Jermaine Gresham remains a threat in his own right. Eifert’s 19 catches have averaged 11.8 yards -- including a 61-yarder in his second career game -- for 225 total yards. He has yet to score a touchdown.

Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions, Rookie: Fauria left Notre Dame and transferred to UCLA, and after going un-drafted he signed with the Lions this summer. In six games this season, the rookie has seven catches, five of which have gone for touchdowns. This past weekend, Fauria caught three passes for 34 yards and three touchdowns.

Brady Quinn, QB, New York Jets, 7th year: Quinn has described his job as “a week-to-week business,” and accurately so. After signing with the Jets in the pre-season to provide veteran depth in the wake of Mark Sanchez’s season-ending shoulder injury, Quinn was cut for week one and re-signed following the opener so as to make his contract non-guaranteed. He has spent the last five weeks as the Jets’ third-string quarterback, and with the recent re-signing of David Garrard, it appears Quinn’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.

Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks, 4th year: Tate has played in all but one game in the last three seasons, catching 124 passes and scoring 11 touchdowns in his career, including last season’s infamous “Fail Mary” against the Packers. This year, Tate has avoided such controversy while gaining 269 yards on 23 catches and one touchdown. He’s also carried twice for 29 yards.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals, 2nd year: Now undeniably the second option to Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd has pulled in 26 receptions this season for 345 yards and one touchdown, building on his 45-catch, 562-yard, two-touchdown rookie season.

Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions, Rookie: Riddick missed his first game of the season Sunday while recovering from a concussion. He has only seen offensive chances once this season -- largely due to Reggie Bush’s resurgence -- in week three when he had two carries for negative two yards and caught one pass for eight yards.

Cierre Wood, RB, Houston Texans, Rookie: As the third-string running back behind two proven rushers, Wood’s chances this season have been limited. In the pre-season, some pundits theorized Wood could be a dark horse for a breakout season due to starter Arian Foster’s injury history. But Foster has remained largely healthy and Wood has remained largely on the bench. He has three carries for nine yards.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Kansas City Chiefs, 8th year: Fasano spent five of his eight professional seasons with the Dolphins before joining the Chiefs this year. An ankle injury has limited the former second-round pick to only the first two games, recording four catches for 34 yards.

John Sullivan, C, Minnesota Vikings, 6th year: Sullivan has held onto a starting role on the Vikings’ offensive line for five years now, blocking for last year’s rushing leader, Adrian Peterson. His contributions to Peterson’s 2,000-yard season earned Sullivan All-Pro status in 2012.

Ryan Harris, OT, Houston Texans, 6th year: After spending most of his career with the Broncos, Harris has found himself in the Texans’ offensive line rotation this season. The former third-round pick has played in all six games, starting two.

Will Yeatman, OL, Miami Dolphins, 3rd year: After transferring to Maryland, Yeatman joined the Patriots as an un-drafted free agent tight end in 2011. When the Patriots cut him at the conclusion of the pre-season, Yeatman signed with the Dolphins. In 2012, the former Irish lacrosse player switched to offensive tackle and is now listed as a guard. He’s appeared in all five Dolphins games.

Sam Young, OL, Jacksonville Jaguars, 4th year: Young has had a busy few weeks. After spending two-plus seasons with the Bills, including 12 games and four starts in 2012, the former sixth-round pick was claimed off waivers by the Jaguars a week ago and saw action against the Broncos this past weekend.

Trevor Robinson, C, Cincinnati Bengals, 2nd year: Robinson has yet to appear in a game this season after playing in 13 and starting seven last season.

Manti Te’o, LB, San Diego Chargers, Rookie: After four years of relative health at Notre Dame, Te’o’s rookie debut was delayed thanks to a sprained right foot. Monday night marked his third game, and his five tackles raised his season total to 13 for the 3-3 Chargers.

Sergio Brown, S, Indianapolis Colts, 4th year pro: In six games this season, Brown has made four tackles, including one Monday night. After spending his first two seasons with the Patriots, Brown has played in every one of Indianapolis’s games the last two seasons.

Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings, 2nd year: Before suffering a foot injury in the Vikings’ 35-10 loss to the Panthers Sunday, Smith started all five games this season and appeared in all 16 last year. He had already made 34 tackles and picked off two interceptions this season after finishing last season with 104 tackles and three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.

Robert Blanton, CB, Minnesota Vikings, 2nd year: Blanton has appeared in all five Vikings games this season, recording six tackles. Last year he made 13 tackles in 13 games.

Darrin Walls, CB, New York Jets, 3rd year: The Jets signed Walls about a year ago to fill the roster spot vacated by the then-injured Darrelle Revis. With Revis’s off-season departure, Walls has held onto the opportunity, now starting for New York and making 14 tackles thus far this season.

Zeke Motta, S, Atlanta Falcons, Rookie: As the back-up safety for the struggling Falcons, Motta has only seen action in one game this season, on Sept. 29 against the New England Patriots. He has yet to record a tackle.

David Bruton, S, Denver Broncos, 5th year: In his five seasons with the Broncos, Bruton has seen action in all but three games, notching a career-high 25 tackles in 2012. This season, the former fourth-round pick has recorded four tackles and one blocked kick.

Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants, 9th year: The former Notre Dame player with the most time spent in the NFL, Tuck’s ninth season has been his least-productive since his first two. Still a mainstay on the Giants’ defensive line, Tuck has recorded 13 tackles and only half a sack this season.

Ronald Talley, DE, Arizona Cardinals, 3rd year: After transferring from Notre Dame to Delaware, Talley went un-drafted in 2009 and was initially signed by the Green Bay Packers. Talley spent the 2009 season the Packers’ practice squad before joining the Cardinals’ practice squad for the majority of the ’10 and ’11 seasons. Talley stayed on the 53-man roster in 2012, notching eight tackles in three games. He has recorded four tackles this season and played in five of the Cardinals’ six games.

Derek Landri, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7th year: Landri spent the last two seasons with the Eagles before joining the Buccaneers this season. He has seen limited action in three games, making two tackles in the season-opener.

Ian Williams, DT, San Francisco 49ers, 3rd year: Williams spent his first two seasons working his way up the 49ers depth chart, finally being named the starting defensive tackle this season. He suffered a broken ankle in the season’s second week.

J.J. Jansen, LS, Carolina Panthers, 6th year: After spending his rookie season on the sidelines with the Green Bay Packers, Jansen has appeared in 69 consecutive games as the Panthers’ long-snapper.


Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina Panthers, 4th year: After starting 10 games in 2010, Clausen has not seen action in the last two-plus seasons. When the Panthers waived the former second-round pick, he passed through waivers unclaimed and is now spending the season on the Panthers’ injured reserve.

Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL, Baltimore Ravens, Rookie: After tearing his ACL in the national championship game, Lewis-Moore is spending this season on injured reserve.

Darius Fleming, LB, San Francisco 49ers, 2nd year: Fleming tore his ACL before the 2012 season, and then the former fifth-round pick tore his other ACL this pre-season. He is on injured reserve for the 2013 season.

Eric Olsen, OL, New Orleans Saints, 4th season: Olsen started four games for the Saints last year, playing in all 16. He is on the injured reserve this season with an undisclosed injury.


- Jonas Gray, RB, Baltimore Ravens, 2nd year
- Jamoris Slaughter, S, Cleveland Browns, Rookie
- Braxston Cave, OL, New England Patriots, Rookie

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