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Minnesota Football: Gophers in the NFL: Final 53 Edition

Fourteen Gophers start the season on an active NFL roster

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL season officially kicks off Thursday night when the Detroit Lions head to the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. No Gophers will be on the field on Thursday night, but fourteen former Gophers will start Week 1 on an active NFL roster with an additional three on league practice squads. Below we list what players you can expect to see on Sundays, and Mondays, and Thursdays, and maybe even an occasional Saturday this fall and winter.

Rashod Bateman—WR Baltimore Ravens

Daniel Faalele—OL—Baltimore Ravens

Week 1 vs Houston Texans

Bateman only competed in the final few weeks of training camp coming off of the foot injury he suffered last season but appears to have regained a starting spot in what is now a much more crowded Ravens WR group. He will need to compete for targets from Lamar Jackson along with rookie Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Jr, and tiht end Mark Andrews. Bateman starts the year as a starter according to the Ravens depth chart and the potential is there for him to finally have a big injury free season.

Faalele is firmly entrenched as the backup right tackle behind starter and 10-year vet Morgan Moses. It may take an injury or two for Faalele so see any real playing time.

Terrell Smith—CB—Chicago Bears

Week 1 vs Green Bay Packers

Smith flashed early in training camp but missed much of the end with a leg injury. He did enough to make the Bears roster as a rookie and is currently slotted as a backup corner back for the Bears.

De’ Vondre Campbell—LB—Green Bay Packers

Week 1 @ Chicago Bears

Campbell has had back to back good seasons in Green Bay and is an obvious starter for the Green and Gold as they head down to Chicago for their season opener.

Blake Cashman—LB—Houston Texans

Eric Murray—S—Houston Texans

Week 1 @ Baltimore Ravens

Cashman enters his fifth NFL season and is set to start at sam linebacker for the Texans when in their base 4-3. Cashman has been a special teams ace in recent seasons but has not has a full injury free season.

Murray is still on the Texans roster much to their fans discontent. His roll has gotten smaller and smaller every season and he is currently set to backup Jalen Pitre at free safety this season.

Jordan Howden—S—New Orleans Saints

Week 1 vs Tennessee Titans

Howden had a good camp and easily earned a roster spot. He currently is listed as the Saints backup strong safety behind Marcus Maye, but will also ply significantly on special teams.

Carter Coughlin—LB New York Giants

John Michael Schmitz-C-New York Giants

Week 1 vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night)

Coughlin enters his fourth season in the NFL much where he has spent the first three—slated to be a backup middle linebacker and earn tons of special teams playing time.

JMS was in a battle in the early part of camp with veteran Shane Lemieux at center and easily won the job after the first preseason game. He will start at center for the Giants on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. One hell of a story there.

Boye Mafe—DL—Seattle Seahawks

Week 1 vs Los Angeles Rams

Mafe had a good preseason and is slated to start for Seattle at one of their 3-4 linebacker spots. From all accounts he has made a huge jump from his rookie season and should be an impact playmaker for the Seahawks defense this fall .

Ko Kieft—TE—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antoine Winfield, JR—S-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 1 @ Minnesota Vikings

It’s a return home in Week one for a pair of Buccaneers and both Ko Kieft and Antoine Winfield Jr are on the Buccaneers active roster. Kieft had a pretty good rookie season and is currently slated as the #2 tight end of the buccaneers with a role similar to last year—a blocking beast who occasionally can surprise and catch a pass. This year it’s from Baker Mayfield and not Tom Brady though.

Winfield will start at safety for the Buccaneers and should be an exciting playmaker once again.

Jack Gibbens—LB—Tennessee Titans

Week 1 @ New Orleans Saints

What a story for Gibbens. One of the final cuts for the Titans a season ago he joined their practice squad and worked his way back to the active roster late in he season. This summer we had a great growth and Gibbens is slated to start for the Titans week one against the Saints. Should be great to watch him grow.

Benjamin St. Juste—CB—Washington Commanders

Week 1 vs Arizona Cardinals

We somehow omitted St. Juste from this list last time, but he was a sinch to make the Commanders roster once again and will start as their nickel back for Washington. St.Juste has shown flashes of being a consistent corner back in the NFL and should have that opportunity yet again against the high powered NFC East.

Practice Squad Players:

Tyler Johnson—WR—Los Angeles Rams

Esezi Otomewo-DL—Jacksonville Jaguars

Thomas Rush—DL—Tennessee Titans

Johnson had a good preseason for the Rans but it was not enough to make the active roster as he was cut and added back to their practice squad. Otomewo was cut by the Vikings after one season and he signed with the Jags to their practice squad instead of returning to Minnesota. Rush had some moments in the preseason but never really was a threat to make the final roster for Tennessee, but he did impress enough to earn a practice squad spot.

Injured Reserve:

Mo Ibrahim—RB—Detroit Lions

The hopes were high for Mo when the Lions signed him as an UDFA, but the injury bug once again reared it’s head. He got hurt in the lions opening preseason game and was cut with an injury designation halfway through camp. He was not claimed on waivers by any other team and the Lions put him on injured reserve. He will either remain there and try again in 2024, or Detroit can give him an injury settlement and cut bait, allowing him to become a free agent and sign with any other NFL team. In either case the chance of seeing MO in the NFL in 2023 is slim.

Unsigned Training Camp Cuts:

Chuck Fillaga—OL—New Orleans Saints

Tanner Morgan—QB—Pittsburgh Steelers

Chris Streveler—QB

Fillaga and Morgan were both cut when teams trimmed their roster from 90 to 53 and were not given practice squad deals by any teams. They remain free agents and could join a teams practice squad if they come calling, but most likely they will need to decide if they want to try again next summer, or look for other pro football or career opportunities.

Streveler was cut in camp by the Jets and not picked up, so it appears is NFL days are coming to a close.

Good luck to the former Gophers this season!