Tracking NFL Noles Through 2022 Training Camp and Early Season (9/25 Update)

It's after Week 1 and there is still player movement, so here's another update.

Those of you who've been around for awhile may remember that I used to do regular fan posts about the movement and play of our former Noles once they joined the NFL. I stopped doing the weekly in-season posts when the difficulty finding time to amass all the data and write it up became more than the limited engagement those posts generated were worth. The last post I did was during the early offseason in 2020. This year, with three Noles in camp for my hometown team (the Chiefs) and two in camp for my adopted second team (the Eagles), I decided to revisit doing a preseason post.

Below I'll talk about five different groups of players and their outlook for the season, then at the end provide a table that summarizes where everyone is.

The Stars

You might have heard about it this week, but Derwin James got a new contract from the Chargers. At $76.4 million over four years, he is now the highest paid safety in the NFL. His play has definitely been worth the money when he's been healthy. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in his two seasons playing 16 and 15 (out of 17) games, but lost almost two seasons due to a foot stress fracture and a torn meniscus. He'll get every chance to earn that fat contract given how stacked the AFC West is.

Jalen Ramsey celebrated Derwin's contract on Twitter and told the safety to buy dinner. That's a little off, because while Jalen is only the third highest paid corner at the moment, his $20 million a year does outweigh his buddy's salary. Ramsey got to visit the factory that made his and his Rams teammates' championship rings. He'll be looking to add another ring and continue building his Hall of Fame resume this season.

Dalvin Cook is hoping to burnish his resume as well. A Pro Bowler for the past four years, Dalvin is hoping for a healthy season (he's yet to play every game in any of his seasons) and to put together another thousand yard campaign. He's looked at as anywhere between RB4 and RB7 on the various fantasy football sites I've looked.

Brian Burns is a burgeoning star, but quickly becoming recognized as a top pass rusher. After posting 9 sacks each of the last two seasons and getting his first Pro Bowl nod last year, he'll be looking to hit double digits this season as part of what should be an improved Panthers defense.

Veterans Who Have Comfortable Situations

Jameis Winston is someone we all assumed would be perpetually listed among the stars of the NFL, but life doesn't always meet expectations. After a run in Tampa Bay that never went as he wanted, he ended up as a backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans. With Brees retiring last offseason, you'd think the way would be clear for Jameis to slide right into the starting spot, but he was subjected to a farce of a QB competition with tight end/"offensive weapon" Taysom Hill. After winning that competition handily, Jameis started the season looking like a brand new QB while guiding a heavily undertalented Saints offense, but a promising season was cut short by an ACL injury. Now he's back, and though he's dealing with a foot injury in camp, he has a restocked offense to lead and a very real possibility of being 2022's Comeback Player of the Year.

A few years ago, I'd put Rodney Hudson, who has Pro Bowls and All Pro selections on his resume and who became the highest paid center in the NFL in 2019, in the Stars category. But a discount trade from the Raiders to the Cardinals and a stint on the injured reserve last season had him contemplating retirement. He's still by far the best FSU offensive lineman in the league (not counting ex-Nole transfer Landon Dickerson), but he's on the downswing of his career.

Like Jameis, Cam Akers is hoping to complete a comeback from injury. He tore his Achilles during training camp last year and though he was thought lost for the season, he made it back just in time to end the season and help the Rams through the playoffs to their Super Bowl championship. He should be fully good to go in helping the Rams defend their title, though he is currently being treated cautiously for a soft tissue injury.

Another player with a championship ring, Derrick Nnadi was a free agent this summer but signed a one year contract to come back and start for the Kansas City Chiefs. Nnadi is the primary run stopping nose tackle for a rebuilt Chiefs D, but the team has also brought in massive former Brown Danny Shelton as competition. I'd still expect Nnadi to start and be a big part of that D line rotation in what should be a highly improved defense.

Lamarcus Joyner is in a small position battle with the Jets and is trying to hold onto the starting free safety spot, where New York loves his play. He's had a bit of an up and down career, getting moved around by Jeff Fisher with the Rams to the point of Lamarcus threatening to quit football on an episode of Hard Knocks. He solidified his play once he was named the starting free safety once Sean McVay took over when Fisher was fired, losing his one Super Bowl appearance to date. He signed with the Raiders as a free agent, but they started moving him around again, putting him in the slot and sometimes playing him like a hybrid safety. The Jets have him back at free safety, where the 32 year old should either be the starter or primary backup.

Josh Sweat is a perfect example of the rewards a team can reap by having patience in the development of their players. Drafted in 2018 and seeing little action his rookie season, Josh has improved each season, bumping up his sack total each year and becoming a starter for the Eagles last year, resulting in his first Pro Bowl nod. He's looked pretty good this preseason and should expect to increase his output yet again.

Ronald Darby is also in a sweet spot. Despite being runner-up in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting with the Bills and being the starting corner for the Eagles during their Super Bowl season, the Broncos became his fourth team in a seven year career last season. Still, he is solidly starting in Denver and hopes to continue the team's defensive successes to help their rebuilt offense push the team higher in the standings than they've been the last few seasons.

Graham Gano and Dustin Hopkins both enjoyed competition-free training camps this year, which have to feel good for them entering their 13th and 8th seasons, respectively. DHop is technically on his fourth team in the Chargers after spending his rookie season on the IR in Buffalo, a practice squad year in New Orleans, followed by an extended stint with Washington that resulted in him getting kicked to the curb in the middle of last season before being picked up by Los Angeles. The Giants are Gano's third team, after he followed a three year stint in Washington with seven years in Carolina. Both kickers are solidly in control of their fates with their current teams, but that can always change with the wrong missed kick in the NFL. They're seasoned vets though, and kicking well this preseason.

Terrence Brooks has had a remarkably successful career as a backup safety and special teams ace, starting only six games over eight seasons. He's had some bad luck with what teams he's been on, getting traded from the Eagles just in time to miss their Super Bowl run and signing with the Patriots one year after their last championship. In 2022 he's back for a second season with the fairly awful Houston Texans. Terrence probably won't sniff the playoffs, but he's solidly in the Texans secondary rotation. [Surprisingly, the Texans released Terrence. He really should find a home somewhere.]

Mario Edwards Jr. is undergoing a bit of a position change, getting shifted inside to defensive tackle in Chicago's redesigned defense. He's going to be expected to pressure the QB from that inside position. MEJ is in the second year of the three year extension he signed with Chicago last season. [In a bit of a surprise, the Bears released MEJ. It appears they were willing to swallow his salary cap hit. It will be interesting to see if he catches on with another team.] [[MEJ is now on the Jaguars' practice squad.]]

Young Players in Comfortable Situations

The Jets sure do like their Noles. In addition to Lamarcus Joyner, they'll also have Jermaine Johnson and Hamsah Nasirildeen getting decent snaps this season. New York drafted Hamsah in the sixth round last year and has been playing him as a middle linebacker, taking advantage of his range and hard hitting to roam the field. He's made significant progress, and though he will probably be a backup this season, his growth has him on track to eventually crack the starting lineup. Johnson was a highly anticipated rookie, and the Jets were lucky to have him fall to them late in the first round of this year's draft. He's probably going to start the season as a backup but will be a significant part of that pass rush rotation for the Jets. [I was a bit surprised to see the Jets waive Hamsah. I'll be interested to see if anyone picks him up for their practice squad, including the Jets.] [[Hamsah is now on the Jets practice squad.]]

Asante Samuel Jr is riding high on a solid Chargers defense along with Derwin James. Drafted in the second round last year, he had a solid first outing, starting 12 games but missing four to a concussion. He's back and healthy and firmly in control of a starting spot in that Los Angeles secondary with an eye toward earning his first Pro Bowl.

Veterans Trying to Hold onto a Roster Spot

There are a whole host of veteran Noles who are not assured positions on their teams, and many of them are along the offensive line. Among them, Cameron Erving is the only one with a championship ring, which he picked up during his stint with Kansas City. The seven year vet, who made Carolina his fourth pro team last season, was benched by the Panthers midway through the year. This year, he's not done anything to stand out in training camp, but his $4.5 million cap hit if the Panther cut him will probably keep him on the team as a swing tackle and potential sub on the interior line. [Cam made it onto the active 53, with his position secured a bit after the Panthers traded away one of the tackles he had been competing for a spot with.]

Bobby Hart has managed to get two different fanbases (the Giants and Bengals) upset with his play for them and was in Tennessee for too short of a time to make an impact. Now with Buffalo, he's being listed at both tackle and guard, and that positional flexibility should help him gain a spot as a backup on the team blocking for Josh Allen. [Bobby is on the Bills' active 53, making some fans upset. I'm not completely sure when he made a heel turn in his NFL career.]

Roderick Johnson is in Chiefs camp this year after getting signed to their practice squad last year. He was cut loose by the Texans after a three year career with them, much to the surprise of many fans. He's had a very up and down preseason with Kansas City, getting some starting reps while KC's left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. held out, then shifting to the second team when Brown signed his franchise tag tender. However, Roderick has looked atrocious at times (as has the rest of the backups along that line). He has a shot at sticking around on the 53 man roster as a backup, but could just as easily find himself back on the practice squad or as a free agent. [Roderick was released as the Chiefs worked to get down to 53.] [[The Eagles signed Roderick to their practice squad.]]

Rick Leonard showed some promise when he was drafted by the Saints in the fourth round in 2018. That promise wasn't realized, as he was signed to their practice squad after camp before being released. Since then, he's been in camp or on the practice squad for eight different teams. He's currently with the Atlanta Falcons, where he was the team's worst graded offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus after their first preseason game. I see a cut coming. [Leonard was waived by the Falcons just prior to their last preseason game.]

Derrick Kelly has already felt the sting of being cut once this preseason. He was signed by the Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2019 and spent the season on their practice squad. He actually made the 53 man roster the next season, but was back on the practice squad in 2021 before being released. He spent some time on the Giants' practice squad last season as well. He came to camp with the Jets this season, but was waived this week. The Saints have since picked him back up. I don't foresee this ending with him making the roster, but perhaps he'll show them enough to warrant a spot on their practice squad. [Kelly was waived by the Saints just after their final preseason game.]

Another player who's been cut already this preseason is Ryan Izzo. The former Patriot, who has since experience camp or practice squad with four other franchises, opened the preseason with Carolina but was released during the Panthers' first round of cuts this week. He's still looking for a new job.

Someone with a better shot and making the cut is Jacques Patrick, who is back with Cincinnati after a 2021 season that saw him make the 53 man roster with an injury-plagued Niners team, only to be released and do stints on the practice squads with Carolina and Baltimore. Jacques is trying to catch on with the Bengals as a third or fourth string running back behind Joe Mixon and Samaje Perrine. He's made some splash plays so far this preseason, so he has a decent chance to make it. [Jacques had a good preseason but not good enough, as he was released. Surely he'll come back on the practice squad.]

A former Bengal is now with Atlanta. Auden Tate never really was used very well in Cincinnati despite being the team's most productive receiver during huge portions of an injury-plagued 2019 campaign. Last season, Auden found himself relegated to being the lone wideout in the Bengals' jumbo package, where he mostly blocked or ran routes to clear out some of the secondary. He's now with Atlanta and is battling for a spot on a rebuilding team. At this point, it's too early to say what will happen, as he could just as easily end up as a backup with good playing time to being cut or placed on the practice squad. [Tate was waived as one of the Falcons' cuts getting down to 80 after the second preseason game.] [[The Eagles signed Auden to their practice squad, so he's joined Big Marv and Josh Sweat in Philly.]]

Demarcus Walker has a better shot of holding onto a backup spot as a defensive end with the Titans. Demarcus fell prey to multiple position changes thanks to coaching turnover during this four years with Denver. He joined Houston last year and had a more productive season despite playing primarily as a backup and spending a short time on the injured reserve. With Tennessee, he's trying to catch onto an already well stocked defense, but I like his odds and predict he'll be part of that defensive end rotation. [Demarcus performed well during the preseason and is on the Titans' 53 man roster.]

P.J. Williams is a player who's had quite the journey in the NFL even though he's spent his entire six year career with the Saints. He's been a corner, a nickelback, and a safety throughout his time. There have been times (especially when he was being played exclusively as a corner early on) that it looked like his career wouldn't last, but here he is, and he's put up some big plays for his team along the way, including a game-sealing interception of Tom Brady to continue the Saints' dominance over the Bucs. His head coach, former defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, likes position flexibility in his secondary, and PJ definitely gives the team that. It's by no means settled, but at the moment, PJ has a solid hold on a backup safety spot. [It's settled. PJ makes the 53 man roster with the Saints.]

What's a better story than a veteran heading into training camp and exiting with a roster spot? A veteran who wasn't even invited to a camp getting a spot with a team. Christian Jones is back in the NFL, having been signed to the Seahawks' practice squad. [And just to add to that, Xavier Rhodes has now signed with the Bills' practice squad.]]

Young Players Trying to Hold onto a Roster Spot

There are several recent draft picks and UDFAs that are battling it out to make their teams as well, hoping to establish a foothold and grow into a solid NFL career. For me, the most interesting is Jashaun Corbin, who was signed by the Giants as a UDFA after this year's draft. Jashaun is in a very crowded competition to be Saquon Barkley's backup, and though he's been playing well, so have his competition. It's really a three way battle at this point, and I expect it to go down to the wire. With Jashaun providing special teams value (he looked great returning kickoffs last week), I'm guardedly optimistic about his chances. If he doesn't make the 53 man roster, I fully expect him to make the practice squad and perhaps get picked up by another team. [After a strong showing in camp, Jashaun was still waived. He should at least show up on someone's practice squad if he's not picked up by another team.] [[Jashaun is now on the Giants practice squad.]]

Keir Thomas is another 2022 UDFA that is trying to latch on, in this case with the Rams. He's performed really well in camp and in the first preseason game (2 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pair of QB hits), and I think things are likely that he'll either make the team as a backup or will definitely hit the practice squad if cut. He's showing too much promise not to give him a shot. [Keir did in fact make the 53 man roster for the Rams, having earned his shot with very solid play during the preseason. Congrats Keir!] [[The Rams decided to move him back to their practice squad, and that's where he find himself week 3.]]

Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson were both drafted in the fourth round last year, 10 picks apart, Janarius by the Vikings and Josh subsequently by the Chiefs. Both of them spent significant time on the injured reserve and are back trying to establish themselves. At the moment, both situations look a little dicey. Janarius is listed 3rd string outside linebacker on unofficial depth charts by Minnesota, and did get a couple tackles and a QB hit in during his time last week. Josh is behind a hefty pass rush rotation populated by several veterans and a brand new first round pick. Unfortunately, he's been nearly invisible throughout camp, including not recording a stat line despite getting substantial playing time in his team's first preseason game. The jury is still out on what will happen with each player, but I'd predict right now that Janarius will either make the 53 man roster or slide onto the Vikings practice squad, while it will take a lot of faith for Josh to make the team, with getting placed on the practice squad or released outright more likely. [The Vikings are waiving Janarius. It's unclear if he's shown enough to make a practice squad. Josh Kaindoh, on the other hand, is starting the season on the Chiefs active roster.] [[The Vikings have signed Janarius to their practice squad.]] {The Eagles signed Janarius to their active roster from the Vikings practice squad after their week 1 injury issues created a need.}

Gabe Nabers is in a position battle of his own after having been the Chargers' main fullback the past two years since they picked him up as a UDFA. Unfortunately for him, he's up against a rookie who was drafted by the team (albeit in the seventh round) this year. It's not a lost cause, but it is an uphill battle for Nabers, who I predict will make it to someone's practice squad if he loses his starting gig in Los Angeles. [The Chargers did indeed waive Nabers. Now to see if he lands elsewhere.]

Finally, Marvin Wilson is in camp with Philadelphia after having been signed to their practice squad last year and getting into their final regular season game. He has unfortunately not shown much in camp this year and is stuck behind a highly talented group. Fortunately, much of that group is aging, and the team might want to keep him another year to provide depth and give him another shot next season when some of the vets move on, so I'm predicting another stint on the practice squad for Big Marv. [The Eagles have cut Marvin. He should be a prime practice squad candidate if he makes it through waivers.] [[Marv was back at practice today, having been signed to the Eagles' practice squad.]]

That's it for this year's Noles in NFL training camps. I'll try to update as there is player movement. In the meantime, here's a concise table for easy reference.

Cam Akers Los Angeles Rams Running Back
Terrence Brooks Free Agent Safety
Brian Burns Carolina Panthers Defensive End
Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings Running Back
Jashaun Corbin New York Giants (PS) Running Back
Ronald Darby Denver Broncos Cornerback
Mario Edwards Jr. Jacksonville Jaguars (PS) Defensive End
Cameron Erving Carolina Panthers Offensive Tackle
Graham Gano New York Giants Place kicker
Bobby Hart Buffalo Bills Offensive Tackle
Dustin Hopkins Los Angeles Chargers Place kicker
Rodney Hudson Arizona Cardinals Center
Ryan Izzo Free Agent Tight End
Derwin James Jr. Los Angeles Chargers Safety
Roderick Johnson Philadelphia Eagles (PS) Offensive Tackle
Jermaine Johnson New York Jets Defensive End
Lamarcus Joyner New York Jets Safety
Joshua Kaindoh Kansas City Chiefs Defensive End
Derrick Kelly Free Agent Offensive Tackle
Rick Leonard Free Agent Offensive Tackle
Gabe Nabers Free Agent Fullback
Hamsah Nasirildeen New York Jets (PS) Linebacker
Derrick Nnadi Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Tackle
Jacques Patrick Free Agent Running Back
Jalen Ramsey Los Angeles Rams Cornerback
Janarius Robinson Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End
Asante Samuel Jr. Los Angeles Chargers Cornerback
Josh Sweat Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End
Auden Tate Philadelphia Eagles (PS) Wide Receiver
Keir Thomas Los Angeles Rams (PS) Linebacker
DeMarcus Walker Tennessee Titans Defensive End
P.J. Williams New Orleans Saints Cornerback
Marvin Wilson Philadelphia Eagles (PS) Defensive Tackle
Jameis Winston New Orleans Saints


Fanposts are a section for the fans and do NOT reflect the views of Tomahawk Nation.