As the 2014 NFL season is about to begin this week, we here at The Daily Gopher will strive to keep you abreast on how the Gopher Football alums are doing on their NFL teams. Currently, there are six former Gophers on NFL 53-Man active rosters to start the season. A seventh Gopher, Aaron Hill was one of the last cuts from the St. Louis Rams, and has a good chance to end up on their ten man practice squad, however, St. Louis had not announced their practice squad as of the time I was writing this.
The six current Gophers on active rosters are:
Eric Decker- Wide Receiver New York Jets
Week 1 Opponent: Oakland Raiders
Decker will be starting his first game as the Jets #1 receiver with Gino Smith under center. The Raiders will be a good team to get your feet wet against, so expect Decker to have a fairly good game.
Marquis Gray- Tight End Minnesota Vikings
Week 1 Opponent: St. Louis Rams
The Cleveland Browns made Gray one of their last cuts to get down to 53 players, but on Sunday he was picked up on waivers by the Vikings. He will be Minnesota's third tight end behind Kyle Rudolph and Rhett Ellison. Gray was most likely picked up due to the fact he played for Norv Turner in Cleveland last season, and has the familiarity of Turner's system he is now installing as the Vikings OC. I don't expect Gray to see much playing time in Week 1, but anything is possible.
Ra'Shede Hageman- Defensive Tackle Atlanta Falcons
Week 1 Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Ra'Shede has had an interesting pre-season as a rookie with the Falcons. He has struggled quite a bit, and it has been showcased on HBO's Hard Knocks. However, he is showing the potential all Gopher fans know he had in him. He will be used in a rotation along the Falcons defensive line, and it will be up to him to earn additional playing time.
Marcus Sherels- Cornerback/ Punt Returner Minnesota Vikings
Week 1 Opponent: St. Louis Rams
Sherels had a great season returning punts for the Vikings last season and will once again be expected to produce great things. He also played more cornerback at the end of the season as injuries took their toll. Sherels has been a great inspiration to many payers entering the league as an undrafted rookie and taking hold to a roster spot. He should have plenty of opportunities to return punts against a St. Louis offense missing Sam Bradford at QB, so hopefully he can take advantage.
Matt Spaeth- Tight End Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 1 Opponent: Cleveland Browns
Matt Spaeth will begin his eighth season in the league as the second tight end in Pittsburgh. Heath Miller will continue to get the majority of the first team snaps, but Spaeth is targeted in the red zone and will be useful in goal line situations. He only had one reception in four games last season after coming back from an injury, and will be looking to show the flashes he has had in the past with 50 career catches and nine carer touchdowns.
Brock Vereen- Safety Chicago Bears
Week 1 Opponent: Buffalo Bills
Vereen has made a splash as a rookie in Bears camp, and has a chance to start the season as a starter. Even if he does not start at safety, Vereen has been a special teams standout for Chicago, and you will see him on both kick and punt coverage teams this season. The Bears cut two veteran safeties because they couldn't beat out Vereen for the job, so Brock will definitely be playing somewhere in the Bears secondary this fall.
Check back next Tuesday to see how our six former Gophers did in Week 1, and who they will face-off against in Week 2!