After NFL teams cut down their rosters from 85 to 80 players Tuesday afternoon, nine former USF student-athletes still remain competing for a spot on the final 53-man roster of their respective teams.
The players include Rodney Adams of the Chicago Bears, Bruce Hector of the Detroit Lions, D’Ernest Johnson of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Love of the Buffalo Bills, Marlon Mack of the Indianapolis Colts, Jason Pierre-Paul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, KJ Sails of the Los Angeles Chargers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling of the Green Bay Packers and Mitchell Wilcox of the Cincinnati Bengals.
In addition to the above nine, DeVontres Dukes of the Denver Broncos and Deadrin Senat of the Atlanta Falcons currently reside on the injured reserve (IR) of their respective teams. In other words, Dukes and Senat will spend the 2021 season sidelined on the IR, or reach a buyout with their teams and sign elsewhere.
Adams arguably has the most compelling story out of the bunch, as he’s a former fifth-round pick in 2017 who is making an NFL comeback after retiring for nearly two years from April 2018 to August 2020.
If the comeback itself wasn’t enough, he also welcomed a newborn baby girl with his wife Saturday and went on to later haul in a 73-yard touchdown the next day, celebrating by rocking the ball to sleep, an ode to his daughter.
Former @USFFootball WR Rodney Adams hauls in a 73-yard touchdown pass in the preseason for the Bears. He’s got 2 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown as the game approaches halftime.
He had 4 receptions for 57 yards last week. https://t.co/tOsevOQVhb
— Richard Silva (@Rich_Silva18) August 21, 2021
Adams’ performance through the first two weeks of the preseason (seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown) may line him up to earn a roster spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster. If nothing else, he’s put himself back on the map, as his story garnered national attention.
Another particularly interesting storyline is Sails, who signed with the Chargers on Aug. 7, over three months after he went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Sails, who earned the nickname “The Mayor” for his work in the Tampa community, has grown quite the fanbase in the local area, seeing tons of support on his Aug. 7 tweet announcing he was joining the Chargers.
There are also former Bulls who are currently free agents and may get picked up by a team at some point, including Austin Reiter, who won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.
Fans will find out which players made the final 53-man rosters across the NFL on Aug. 31 by 4 p.m., the deadline for teams to trim their rosters. There will also be 16 players per team placed on the practice squad.