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Minnesota Football: Gophers in the NFL—Opening Week

Ten Gophers begin the NFL season on active rosters

Tennessee Titans v New York Jets
Eric Decker has a new team this season
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Training camp is over. The preseason games are done. The beginning of the actual 2017 NFL season begins tonight when then Kansas City Chiefs head to last years Super Bowl Champion the New England Patriots to kick off the season.

The NFL has cut the preseason 90-man rosters down to the active 53-man rosters and the up to ten men practice squads. The Minnesota Golden Gophers had nineteen former members in NFL training camps at one point during the preseason. However, that number has been significantly cut down as teams paired down to who they want on their teams as the regular season begins. As of Thursday September 7th, there are ten former Gophers on active NFL rosters, and one former Gopher on a practice squad. Here is an update as we begin the 2017 NFL Season.

Players Listed on an Active NFL Roster:

Eric Decker: WR Tennessee Titans

Decker will begin his Titans career listed second on the depth chart at WR2—behind PJ Fleck and Matt Simon pupil Corey Davis. Decker will see plenty of time in three wide out sets and in the red zone where he can be a veteran threat for Marcus Mariotta.

Week 1: Vs Oakland Raiders

MarQueis Gray: TE Miami Dolphins

Gray is currently listed third at tight end on the Dolphins depth chart. Gray will see tons of time on special teams like he did a year ago and is still arguably the Dolphins best blocking tight end. Hopefully he will see the field more on offense as the season goes on.

Week 1: Game vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers postponed due to Hurricane Irma

Maxx Williams: TE Baltimore Ravens

Williams is listed as the third team tight end for the Ravens. Williams is still trying to work back after his rare knee surgery last year so it will be interesting to see how much the Ravens use him and in what situations

Week 1: At Cincinnati Bengals

De’Vondre Campbell: LB Atlanta Falcons

Campbell gained a starting spot a year ago for Atlanta, and despite moving from the weak side to the strong side in the offseason he will be starting for the Falcons when they open their season in Chicago on Sunday.

Week 1: At Chicago Bears

Briean Boddy-Calhoun: CB Cleveland Browns

Boddy-Calhoun is one of the main beneficiaries of the Browns cuting Joe Haden earlier in the preseason. BBC is still listed as the 2nd team cornerback for the Browns but he saw a ton of action in both the nickle and in base defense a year ago and should this season as well.

Week 1: Vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Marcus Sherels: DB/PR Minnesota Vikings

Sherels won’t see much action on defense for the Vikings, but will play on special teams coverage teams and will be the main punt returner once again for the Vikings

Tramaine Brock: CB Minnesota Vikings

Brock started the preseason without a team after being cut this summer by the San Francisco 49ers due to being charged in a domestic assault incident this summer. The charges were dropped early in August and Brock signed with the Seattle Seahawks and played in two preseason games for them. The day before the cut day, Brock was traded to the Vikings for a 7th round pick and could step in and start immediately at the inside cornerback spot for Minnesota, or could compete with Trae Waynes for the outside spot.

Week 1 vs New Orleans Saints

Eric Murray: DB Kansas City Chiefs

Murray is listed as the backup free safety. He may not see a ton of playing time on defense but should once again be a special teams stud for Kansas City.

Week 1: At New England Patriots

Damien Wilson: LB Dallas Cowboys

Wilson is still waiting for any potential NFL fallout from an assault case he was charged with in July, but as of yet nothing has come down. Wilson has earned the strong side linebacker starting job for the Cowboys and we should see plenty of him this season....unless he finds himself suspended.

Week 1: vs New York Giants

Jalen Myrick: CB Jacksonville Jaguars

Myrick was a bit of a surprise to make the Jags final roster as they cut a couple of players who appeared to have had much better preseasons. Myrick is currently listed as a third team cornerback on the depth chart and will need to make some noise on special teams to avoid potentially being a mid-season release if Jacksonville needs a roster spot.

Week 1: At Houston Texans

On a NFL Practice Squad:

Damarius Travis: DB New England Patriots

Travis was signed as an undrafted free agent by New England and had a great preseason. Unfortunately for him the Patriots are loaded in the secondary. But, Travis was signed immediately to the New England practice squad and is only one injury away from someone’s active roster.

Not Currently on a Roster:

Ra’Shede Hageman

Hageman made the final 53-man roaster cut for the Atlanta Falcons, but was then added to the NFL Commissioners Exempt List the next day as the NFL reviews Hageman’s actions in a domestic assault case he was charged in last winter. The Falcons decided they didn’t want to pay him to wait and see his status and released him on Sunday. Hageman is in limbo until the NFL rules on his case—does he get off scott free and can sign with a team needing some defensive line help, or will he be suspended for several games and not be worth the pick up for a team. Only time will tell.

Mitch Leidner

Leidner was signed before the Minnesota Vikings third preseason game and got two weeks of action in. He played extensively in the second half of the fourth preseason game for the Vikings but was cut. He supposedly worked out for both the Jags and Falcons this week, but so far has not earned a practice squad spot.

Issac Fruechte

Fruechte was trying to cling to a Vikings roster spot with Michael Floyd being suspended for the first four games, but he couldn’t beat out two rookies and was cut by the Vikings, and has used up all his practice squad eligibility.

Cedric Thompson

Thompson was an early cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in camp and did not catch on with another team. We may have seen the end of Thompson’s NFL career.

KJ Maye

Maye looked good in the first New England Patriots preseason game, but faded into the background after that and was cut. He was not signed to anyone’s practice squad and is looking for a job.

Jack Lynn

Lynn saw limited time in the preseason for the Atlanta Falcons and was cut.

Jonah Pirsig

Pirsig was pretty much just a camp body for the Tennessee Titans this fall and was cut.

Hendrick Epke

Epke was cut midway through camp by the Chicago Bears and has a cup of coffee with the Buccaneers but was cut.

Good luck to all the former Gophers playing this week...and the ones trying to find a job.