The NFL season kicked off last weekend with 10 former Arizona Wildcats and a couple of Tucson natives that include Sabino High grad Brooks Reed and ex-Sunnyside running back Michael Smith on Week 1 rosters.
Last year there were 19 UA alums playing in the league at one point, but preseason roster cuts dropped the number of players with Tucson ties down in 2013.
Those who are playing this year have been making an impact on the field with game-winning field goals and touchdown-saving tackles. Starting this week, the Arizona Daily Star takes a look at how those players are doing with the football version of the Home Team:
Player of the Week
• Nick Folk, K, New York Jets: The UA product helped the Jets to an 18-17 opening-week victory over Tampa Bay with a 48-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining in the game. The go-ahead field goal was the 29th of his career. Folk kicked two field goals and one extra point earlier in the game against the Bucs. The Jets play at New England tonight.
Four to watch
• Antoine Cason, DB, Arizona Cardinals: Cason picked up one tackle in Sunday’s loss to the Rams in St. Louis. The former first-round pick out of the UA will face the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
• Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago Bears: The ex-Wildcat opened his 11th season in Chicago with four tackles and one pass deflection in a win over the Bengals. Briggs and the Bears will play their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
• Brooks Reed, LB, Houston Texans: The Sabino High School and UA alum began his third professional season by helping Houston to a victory in San Diego. Reed and the Texans will go for their third straight win against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
• Robert Golden, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers: The former Wildcat was credited with two solo tackles in Pittsburgh’s 16-9 loss to the Titans in the opening week. Golden and the Steelers will travel to Cincinnati on Monday night.
The Big Number
868 Tackles in Lance Briggs’ career, 62 more than the next-closest Arizona alum. Byron Evans had 806 tackles in eight seasons with the Eagles.
Give the Devil his due
Every week, we’ll highlight one former ASU player who’s playing well at the pro level. (Relax, people, it’s just one guy.)
• Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati Bengals: The former ASU star picked up his first career interception in Chicago last Sunday. Burfict also recorded six tackles and one pass deflection in the game. He is listed as probable with a knee injury for Monday’s game against the Steelers.
He said it
“Naw, I wish it was 63 yards. What kicker doesn’t dream of a 63-yard field goal to end a game?”
— Nick Folk, in an interview with Metro New York on Monday. The former Wildcat’s field goal attempt was shortened by 15 yards because of a late-hit penalty by the Bucs.