Two weeks have passed since the start of NFL training camps and as the the football season creeps closer, Ole Miss is poised to have quite a presence throughout the league.
Take a look at the former Rebels who could see time on offense during the 2020 season:
Jordan Ta’amu, QB — Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne have been getting a lot of work with the first and second team offenses at camp in Kansas City. That hasn’t left much in the way of snaps for Jordan Ta’amu or Matt Moore.
Even with limited reps, the Throwin’ Samoan has received nothing but praise.
“Tough time to come in as a quarterback, in a year like this,” said head coach Andy Reid, ”but Jordan’s worked his tail off. It’s evident to all of us that he has spent the time working. We have a lot of words that are calculated in these plays that you have to be able to spit out in a short period of time and he does that well. Then, he’s strong. He’s a strong body and he has a strong mind, and that normally leads to good things. Now, how many reps is he going to get during this time? We’re short on practices for the year—these first five practices, we’re short on time, period, on the field—so he might not get as much time as we ramp up here. But his time will come down the road, but I sure love his attitude.”
“Jordan, he’s been phenomenal,” Henne said. “He’s a young, talented guy. He was in the XFL and had some experience there. He came in and he’s willing to learn. He’s done some really great things. Today was a good opportunity for him to go out there doing the scout team for the defense. He did a really nice job. He’s just going to keep learning, picking our brains each and every day, but he has a great upside.”
It is uncertain as to whether Kansas City will carry four quarterbacks, but we know they will not carry five (ICYMI this is a Shea Patterson joke). Ta’amu could be competing for the third spot on the depth chart, or the Chiefs could release him with hopes that he will clear waivers and sign to their practice squad. It seems as though he is well on his way to backing up Mahomes long-term as Henne and Moore age out.
Chad Kelly, QB — Indianapolis Colts
A crowded quarterback room in Indy added Jacob Eason in the 2020 NFL Draft, leaving Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Rivers, Eason and Chad Kelly on the roster. As is to be expected when the starting and backup spots are locked down by players like Brissett and Rivers, neither the 2020 Washington graduate nor the best quarterback in Ole Miss history are getting a lot of 11 on 11 reps, and both will presumably battle for the third roster spot. Head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator acknowledged that Kelly was receiving more snaps early in camp and threw a couple of touchdowns in the limited action. However, he most recently went 0-for-2 passing with a big run around the right side in his only team series of the second week on Monday, while Eason shined in his small amount of work.
Myles Hartsfield, RB — Carolina Panthers
Myles Hartsfield played defensive back at Ole Miss and saw time as a wide receiver in high school. He signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in March and appears to have found a new home at running back?
Hartsfield has had an unbelievable first two weeks of camp and has received high praise from Rhule on both sides of the ball. After picking off a pass on defense, he switched from a white to blue practice jersey and ran for two touchdowns in the team’s first full 11 on 11 scrimmage— though one was called back for a hold.
Rhule has said that coaches want to see Hartsfield on both sides of the ball right now, but they may focus him at one position sooner rather than later. The team had five running backs enter camp with Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, and Mike Davis leading the way. The Panthers waived running back Jordan Scarlett and will more likely do the same with Trenton Cannon. If something that threatens the depth occurs, the team will surely bring in a veteran running back, but it appears as though Carolina is comfortable with the former Rebel as the emergency ball carrier for now. What a delightful surprise!
Brandon Bolden, RB — New England Patriots
Nine-year NFL veteran and two-time time Super Bowl Champion (put some respect on his name) Branden Bolden has elected to opt out of the 2020 season. He was set to make $1 million in base salary this season and become a free agent in March. By forgoing this year, he will receive his contractual allotment in 2021 and become a free agent in the spring of 2022.
Scottie Phillips, RB — Houston Texans
Bill O’Brien and Houston believes it sured-up its backfield with the addition of David Johnson this offseason and Duke Johnson set to return as the team’s passing down back. Scottie Phillips signed with the Texans after the 2020 NFL Draft and will be near the end of the depth chart. From early camp reports, Buddy Howell will hold down the third running back spot. That leaves Phillips (who would have been the sixth Ole Miss rusher to reach 1,000 yards in a single season if he hadn’t missed a few games in 2018) to battle it out with Karan Higdon, who has had issues with ball security throughout camp, for a roster spot.
Jordan Wilkins, RB — Indianapolis Colts
The Colts drafted one of college football’s most impressive workhorse running backs when they selected Jonathan Taylor out of Wisconsin in April. He joins Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines to created a three-headed monster in the backfield that will most likely leave Jordan Wilkins on the outside looking in. The former 1,000-yard Rebel back has played a limited role in his first two years in the NFL, impressed when he received touches in-game, and has had a few nice run in camp this summer. The 26-year-old missed the team’s first full scrimmage of the season with an undisclosed injury and is listed as questionable for now.
Laquon Treadwell, WR — Atlanta Falcons
After signing with the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason, Laquon Treadwell will look to revitalize his career in year four. His collegiate accolades speak for themselves and the former first-round pick’s struggles in Minnesota may have been a result of the wrong fit.
He enters 2020 with a lot to prove and a lot high-upside, low-risk talent.
Had some asking about Laquon Treadwell yesterday so here’s a quick look at him today. pic.twitter.com/v08md5BXjD— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) August 24, 2020
DaMarkus Lodge, WR — Cincinnati Bengals
The third, lesser-known member of the Nasty Wideouts has an elite frame and ball skills, but has yet to get a real shot at the league. Damarkus Lodge signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent out of college in 2019 and played in all four preseason games for the Bucs before being waived during final cuts. The 23-year-old was brought on to the Cincinnati practice squad in December and will compete to make the Bengals’ 53-man roster for the 2020 season.
Joe Burrow is the new signal caller in town and went 16-for-20 during training camp on Monday. One of his 16 completions dropped into Lodge’s outstretched arms for a 40-yard touchdown pass. A.J. Green, Tate Auden, John Ross III, Tyler Boyd and 2020 second round draft pick Tee Higgins headline a promising your receiving core, but Green has struggled to stay healthy over the last few seasons and could open a spot for Lodge if he sees more time on the injured reserve list.
D.K. Metcalf, WR — Seattle Seahawks
DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf is a beast. He burst on to the scene with Seattle in 2019 and has again worked with Russell Wilson all offseason. He has quickly become the veteran quarterback’s favorite target.
We have seen DK continue to put in work during camp this summer and not only is he still a physical marvel, but he has improved his route running.
And he’s still going to burn your best corner.
Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will be Seattle’s No. 1 and No. 2 receivers in 2020.
Donte Moncrief, WR — New York Jets
Drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Donte Moncrief has made 204 catches for 2,561 yards and 21 touchdowns in his six-year career. He forwent his senior season with Ole Miss and spent 2014-2017 with the Colts, before signing a one-year, $9.6 million fully-guaranteed contract with the Jaguars for 2018 and bounced from the Steelers to the Panthers in 2019.
Moncrief worked out with the 49ers earlier in the summer and the Jets put him through a COVID-19 screening and workout a few weeks back. As of August 29, reports that New York plans to sign veteran receiver Donte Moncrief once he passes through COVID-19 protocols are confirmed and the King Kobraz’s favorite receiver will be back on an NFL roster.
The Jets are in desperate need of depth at the position and Moncrief will fill that void right away. Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are the two incumbent starters, but the latter is dealing with knee soreness and has been sitting out of training camp. The team’s first round pick Denzel Mims was expected to play a big role in 2020 has not practiced yet this year. New York has just seven healthy receivers at the moment, including veteran Chris Hogan, who signed earlier this month. Moncrief will see significant targets right away.
Cody Core, WR — New York Giants
Cody Core began his career as a sixth-round pick with the Bengals and signed with the Giants in 2019. After his first and only year in New York as a highly-regarded special teams player, Core signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the team in March. He was slotted to become an important factor to the team’s function and received a lot of praise from former special teams coordinator and first-year head coach Joe Judge. Unfortunately, Core was placed on the Injured Reserve list with an Achilles injury earlier in camp and will not see the field this season.
A.J. Brown, WR — Tennessee Titans
The Titans locked down their franchise quarterback by extending Ryan Tannehill this offseason and hope to return to the AFC Championship game this fall. Arthur James Brown came into his own when Tannehill took the starting job and was robbed of the offensive rookie of the year title in 2019. The duo formed a dangerous rapport with one another and it has not dwindled one bit during the offseason.
Brown, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries will line up as the 1, 2, and 3 receivers in Tennessee and the Mayor of Starkville is making his case to be the top guy in camp.
AJ Brown with a crisp route to beat Malcolm Butler pic.twitter.com/wTDxKsfAkz— John Glennon (@glennonsports) August 16, 2020
He does not have anyone sleeping on him entering 2020.
Quincy Adeboyejo, WR — New England Patriots
The man on the receiving end on the ‘Tuscaloosa Tip’ entered the NFL with Baltimore in 2017. Quincy Adeboyejo spent most of his rookie season on the Ravens’ practice squad before signing to the 53-man roster in December. He stayed in Maryland for 2018 but spent the year on the physically unable to perform list and was cut in July of 2019. He spent part of the 2019 training camp with the Jets and signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in November.
He was waved by New England on August 15 with injury designation and has revered to the team’s injured reserve after clearing waivers.
Evan Engram, TE — New York Giants
Eazy E will begin his fourth year with the Giants after being placed on injury reserve with a foot injury and missing the last five games of last season. He has struggled with staying healthy during his short career thus far but continues to produce when he’s on the field and looks great at camp this year.
Evan Engram looks like he’s in the best shape of his life...— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) August 23, 2020
A healthy season for him would be huge, and even bigger for the Giants’ offense! pic.twitter.com/66cQ1mzIG1
New York’s new head coach has praised the Ole Miss standout for what Judge has seen from him already.
Joe Judge raves about Evan Engram:— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) August 20, 2020
"He's got a high ceiling, he's very, very talented. He's a guy that I tell him, 'I love watching you practice. Let's not disappoint me out there today'" pic.twitter.com/acj4gzzhSo
Engram will be the team’s starting tight end this fall.
Dawson Knox, TE — Buffalo Bills
It has been pretty quiet out of New York surrounding the Bills’ tight end group thus far into camp. Dawson Knox, Phil Longo’s most forgotten weapon, is slated to hold the starting spot entering the season and will be backed up by Tyler Kroft. He is ready to get back on the field and use his signature move.
Knox averaged 13.9 yards per catch on 28 receptions in 2019 and will look to build on a promising rookie campaign.
Greg Little, LT/OL — Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are under new leadership with a new era at quarterback beginning in 2020. The team added veteran tackle Russell Okung in March, which locks down the left tackle position and doesn’t fare well for Greg Little, the team’s 2019 second round draft pick. However, outside of center Matt Paradis, multi-use Dennis Daley and Little, much of the line has expiring contracts at the end of the season, which opens the door to future opportunity. Little has showed flashes of good things in his little time in the league, but was raw out of Oxford and will need to continue to develop.
Film Room— John Ellis (@OnePantherPlace) September 25, 2019
Here’s a little nugget for you. On this dagger concept TD from Allen to Moore, look at #Panthers rookie LT Greg Little doing WORK on an elite EDGE rusher: Chandler Jones.
This is exceptional pass protection. pic.twitter.com/CTcOUTvxbp
It could be a situation where Little sees some time at guard this fall or pencils in as depth behind Okung in 2020. Either way, head coach Matt Rhule says that he is “really pleased” with the former Rebel and believes he will be a “fantastic tackle in time.”
Bobby Massie, RT — Chicago Bears
Entering his ninth year in the NFL, former fourth-round pick Bobby Massie has built a solid career at the tackle position with Arizona and Chicago. He signed a four-year extension with the Bears in 2019 but the 31-year-old saw his body catch up with him a little bit last season. If he can stay healthy, the 6-foot-6, 325-pound, three-year Ole Miss starter will anchor the right side in the Windy City for the fourth year in a row.
Laremy Tunsil, LT — Houston Texans
The highest paid lineman in the league continues to earn his money.
Javon Patterson, OL — Indianapolis Colts
After being selected in the seventh round of the 2019 Draft and missing the entire season with a torn ACL, Javon Patterson returned to practice on August 19th at Colts camp. He will presumably begin the year as a backup at guard.
John Jerry, OG — Free Agent
34-year-old John Jerry was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins and has made 106 starts in the league with Miami, New York (Giants), and Cincinnati. He is not currently on a roster or in camp, but could be called upon by a team needing depth throughout the season.
Bradley Sowell, OT/TE — Free Agent
Bradley Sowell played tackle in Oxford from 2007-2011 and has been a journeyman throughout the NFL from time with Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Seattle and Chicago. He earned the starting left tackle job with the Seahawks in 2016, but injury derailed his season. Sowell has played the on again, off again game with the Bears since 2017 and has played on the line, at fullback and at tight end. Chicago will bring him back at some point.
Floyd Allen, WR — Free Agent
As someone who never saw significant playing time at Ole Miss as a transfer preferred walk-on, and battled homelessness and a torn ACL to get where he is today, Floyd Allen continues to grind. He was signed by the Texans as an undrafted rookie in 2019 and made it through training camp before being waived during the team’s final roster cuts.
Allen signed with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL before the league canceled its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and received a workout with Houston again earlier this summer. He has not signed with a team yet, but is staying ready.
Ready whenever opportunity call! pic.twitter.com/NYpVqniDL9— Floyd Allen (@LegendaryGrind) August 23, 2020
He is the feel-good, underdog story of the bunch that everyone should be rooting for.