The preseason portion of the NFL season is halfway over and there are a ton of former Rebels in the league in some semblance or another. Some of them start for Super Bowl contenders while other are just looking for a spot on the roster, but they are all our sons.
Here we will give you a quick tidbit on each player, what they are up to with their current team, and where we think they stand going forward.
Mike Hilton - Pittsburgh Steelers
Undrafted in 2016, Hilton enters his 3rd full season as a starter in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have tinkered with their secondary thus far in the preseason, and will feature three safeties in games against pass happy offenses. Against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, Hilton moved from starting slot corner to safety. Look for the Steelers to move Hilton all over the field. Remembering his time in Oxford, it’s obvious he will make plays regardless of position.
He also had a pretty big off season off the field.
Javien Hamilton - Free Agent
The Louin, Miss. native injured his hamstring early in preseason camp and has been on IR ever since. Hamilton reached a settlement with the Green Bay Packers and should be eligible to sign with other teams once he can pass a physical.
Derrick Jones - Houston Texans
Jones signed with the Texans less than a week after being waived by the Packers due to a failed physical. After playing in just four games in two season for the New York Jets, the Eupora, Miss. native has struggled with injuries. Entering his third team in two years, getting healthy is a must to be able to stick around in the NFL.
Ken Webster - New England Patriots
Never a stranger to injuries, Webster spent the first half of preseason on the physically unable to perform list. The Super Bowl champions expect him to play in week three, but Webster may need to make a strong impression on them to earn a spot on the 53-man. Look for Webster to get healthy and latch on somewhere for 2019, but making a team like the Patriots may be difficult with so little film from the preseason.
Fadol Brown - Green Bay Packers
After picking up a calf injury during training camp, Brown missed the Packers first two preseason games. There had been some mystery surrounding the injury and a timetable for a return until Fadol showed up at Packers practice on Tuesday. Brown registered 17 tackles in 2018, but he will need to stay healthy to keep his spot on the 53-man in 2019.
Marquis Haynes - Carolina Panthers
The two-time all-sec rush end had just four tackles in 2018, but the Panthers are expecting a big leap this year. Haynes had two sacks last week against the Bears. The Panthers moved from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 base which allows Haynes to do what he does best—get after the passer. Last year was sort of a redshirt season, so expect 2019 to be a breakout year.
Marquis Haynes out here doing work. pic.twitter.com/XbEKNylMGd— Jeremy Igo (@CarolinaHuddle) August 6, 2018
Lavon Hooks - Pittsburgh Steelers
The Packers and Steelers have cut him more times than you can count, but at age 27, Lavon Hooks is still trying to break into the NFL. A roster spot may be out of the question, but Hooks has an inside shot at making his fourth practice squad in five years. And any football fan knows practice players are one injury away from getting a call up to the 53-man. Plus, if you can make a living with an NFL team with as much history as the Pittsburgh Steelers, more power to you.
Robert Nkemdiche - Miami Dolphins
Not much else can be said about Robert Nkemdiche. The former first rounder disappointed in Arizona and showed up for his fourth season with the Cardinals by being out of shape and overweight. The Dolphins quickly grabbed him off waivers, but 2019 may be time for Nkemdiche to shit or get off the pot. His talent will make teams think if they can just fix one thing they can find a diamond in the rough, but the clock seems to be ticking to get that big contract. Perhaps some time on South Beach with Laremy will help clear his head.
Woodrow Hamilton IV - Carolina Panthers
Barely a top 1,000 player out of high school and overshadowed by another Power 5 player out of Raleigh, Miss., Woody Hamilton enters his third season in the NFL. The defensive lineman has bounced from New England, to the Saints, next the Giants, and finally the Carolina Panthers. I don’t expect Woody to make the 53-man but he's shown to be a good locker room guy and that will earn him a spot on the practice squad.
DJ Jones - San Francisco 49ers
Jones played in 10 games last season for the 49ers and started the last four. He totaled nine solo tackles and four more assisted. The Niners defensive line struggled last season but picked Nick Bosa second overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and now looked primed to be the strength of the team. DJ Jones should get significant snaps this season and will battle for a starting role.
Breeland Speaks - Kansas City Chiefs
Speaks combined for 24 tackles and started four games for one of the most exciting teams in the league last season. The Callaway product played outside linebacker last season but has been moved back to defensive end in a 4-3 system in 2019 and should be a central figure in getting the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.
I love the Breeland Speaks smile and wave so much pic.twitter.com/xk7b8OsNEh— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) October 28, 2018
That was until he picked up an injury in the Chiefs second preseason game. Doctors are evaluating the injury and the Chiefs should have an update on it this week, but there is some concern in the organization. Speaks, if healthy, should have a true breakout season now that he is back in his natural position along the line.
Trae Elston - Philadelphia Eagles
Another member of the 2015 Landshark Defense, Elston has battled through injuries during his time in the NFL. He made his only start in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills, and missed all of 2018 as a free agent due to some nagging ailments. Elston has an inside shot at making the 53-man roster and earning significant playing time. Quarterbacks who have targeted Elston so far in the preseason have just a 56.3 passer ratings. It’s early, and game three typically decides who can make the team and who cannot, but Elston is poised to return to the NFL.
AJ Moore - Houston Texans
The Moore twins lined up on separate sides earlier this month when the Texans hosted the Lions in week two of the preseason. AJ didn’t dress out due to a concussion, but after playing in every game on special teams (and leading the team in special teams snaps) for the Texans in 2018, Moore should make the roster and feature in some special three safety packages.
CJ Moore - Detroit Lions
The younger of the Moore twins has not yet played in an NFL regular season game due to tearing his pectoral muscle in consecutive years due to being able to lift a shit ton of weight, but his brothers success on special teams has shown him the path forward to getting on the field in the NFL. Show up to show out, CJ.