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Minnesota Football: Gophers in the NFL—Regular Season Wrap Up

A final look at the regular season for the former Gophers

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

As the 2023 NFL regular season wrapped up last week we will take a look back at the final season stats for the Gophers who played in the NFL. Sixteen former Gophers made an appearance in at least one NFL game this season and half of them will see action in the postseason as well. Some players had career years, while some had just a few minutes of action before their season came to a crashing halt. We shall recap them here and look forward to the Gophers who are still playing over the next few weeks.

Rashod Bateman—WR Baltimore Ravens

Daniel Faalele—OL—Baltimore Ravens

It was not the best year for Rashad Bateman. The former Gopher WR had hopes that he would break into the top of the pecking order for Lamar Jackson but he was solidly the #3 option for the Raves this season. Bateman finished the regular season with 32 receptions for 367 yards and just one touchdown. He did peak late in the season with his best game being a four catch for 54 yard game in a blowout win over Miami in Week 17.

Faalele dressed in 16 of the Ravens 17 games this season and came off the bench in every game. He ended up playing 18% of the offensive snaps for the Ravens and 19% of the special teams snaps.

Both players should be back in Purple and Black next season. But first they have the postseason to look forward to. The Ravens earned the AFC’s #1 seed and a bye this weekend but they will open up at home next weekend against the lowest remaining seed.

Playoff Week 1—BYE

Terrell Smith—CB—Chicago Bears

When healthy it was a pretty good rookie season for Smith in Chicago. He played in 12 of the Bears 17 games, starting four. The four games he missed were due to a case of mono he got midseason. He finished the season with 49 tackles, 37 of them solo, and three of them for a loss. He earned six pass defenses, and added a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He played in exactly 50% of the Bears defensive snaps this season and should hopefully earn more time next year, though with a totally new defensive staff with the bears who knows.

De’ Vondre Campbell—LB—Green Bay Packers

Campbell has the worst of his three years in Green Bay this season as he struggled to remain healthy. He played in just 11 of the Packers 17 games. He played in 81% of the Packers defensive snaps on the season. He finished the regular season with 75 tackles, 46 of them solo and 3 for a loss. He added one pass defense and one fumble recovery. He should be bac in Green Bay again next season but first looms the playoffs and a trip to Dallas on Sunday.

Playoffs Week 1 @ Dallas Cowboys 3:30 Sunday

Blake Cashman—LB—Houston Texans

Eric Murray—S—Houston Texans

It was a career year for Blake Cashman and a year to forget for Eric Murray for the Texans this season. Cashman had his best year as a pro as he stayed mostly healthy playing in 14 of the Texans 17 games. He set a new Texans record for most tackles in a game when he had 19 in a win over Arizona. He played in 71% of the defensive snaps and 22% of the special teams snaps for Houston. He finished the year with 106 tackles, 56 of them solo, 9 for a loss and two sacks. He also added five pass defenses, his first career interception and a fumble recovery in helping the Texans to the AFC South title. He should play a huge role on this defense next season

Murray played in just six games this season after tearing his meniscus in an October game against the Saints and has been on IR since. He finished his season with 13 tackles, 8 of them solo and added a forced fumble. He is not expected to play in the post season and his status to return with the Texans next year is questionable with just one more year on his contract.

The Texans still have at least one more game this season as they host Cleveland in a Wild Card game Saturday

Playoffs Week 1— vs Cleveland Browns 3:30 Saturday

Jordan Howden—S—New Orleans Saints

Howden had a decent rookie season with the Saints. He played in 16 of the Saints 17 games and finished the season playing 55% of the defensive snaps and 37% of the special teams snaps. He ended his rookie year with 43 tackles, 23 of them solo, five pass defenses and one forced fumble. He will hopefuly play an even larger role in the Saints defense in 2024.

Carter Coughlin—LB New York Giants

John Michael Schmitz-C-New York Giants

It was another year of grinding on special teams for Coughlin while JMS had a fair rookie year in NYC.

Coughlin played in all 17 games for the Giants, but saw only two defensive snaps all season. He played 87% of the special teams snaps for the Giants and would record nine solo tackles. He will be a free agent this summer.

Schmitz played in 13 games for the Giants starting his first three before suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out three weeks and then suffered a shin injury that kept him out of the season finale. He played 92% of the offensive snaps for the Gants and committed just three penalties all season. He also recovered one fumble this season for the Giants.

Boye Mafe—DL—Seattle Seahawks

Mafe got off to a great start to the season but then he calmed down and defenses adjusted to him as he productivity dropped in the second half of the season. He played in 16 games for Seattle and in 82% of the defensive snaps and 18% of special teams snaps. he ended the season with 93 tackles, 63 of them solo and 9 for loss—all of which were QB sacks. He added six pass defenses, forced one fumble and recovered two for Seattle.

Ko Kieft—TE—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antoine Winfield, JR—S-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ko made the best of a limited role in his second year in the NFL while AWJ literally became one of the best defenders in the NFL in front of our eyes.

Ko played in 16 games for Tampa this season playing just 20% of the offensive snaps, sown from 22% a year ago. He was another special teams leader though playing in68% of the special teams snaps for the Buccaneers. Offensively he was targeted five times but caught only one pass this season—-but it did go for a two yard TD in Green Bay, He made seven special teams tackles, three of them solo.

Winfield had one of the best seasons for a defensive back in recent memory. For it he was named First Team All-Pro by the AP.

He started all 17 games on defense for Tampa playing in 98% of the snaps. He recorded 122 tackles, 76 of them solo and six for a loss. All six were QB sacks. He added a career high 12 pass defenses, three interceptions, a NFL leading six forced fumbles, and recovered four of them. He will be a free agent this offseason and will get PAID.

But first the Buccaneers host the Eagles in a Wild Card playoff game Monday night.

Playoffs Week 1 —vs Philadelphia Eagles 7:00 Monday

Jack Gibbens—LB—Tennessee Titans

Gibbons has a decent second year in the NFL and proved he can be an everyday player. He played 14 games for the Titans this season and missed the last three after being put in IR with a back injury. He played 66% of the defensive spans and 52% of the special teams snaps for the Titans this season. He ended the year with 95 tackles, 56 of them solo, and 3 of them for a loss. He added three pass defenses as well. He is a restricted free agent so the Titans will have the first shot at trying to resign him this offseason.

Benjamin St. Juste—CB—Washington Commanders

St. Juste played a ton for the Commanders this season and made some nice plays for a struggling team. He played 16 games and 97% of the defensive snaps for the Commanders. He made 67 tackles, 52 of them solo, and one for a loss. He had 17 pass defenses, one interception and one forced fumble.

Mohamad Ibrahim—RB—Detroit Lions

It was a rough NFL debut for Mo Ibrahim. After missing most of training camp with an injury he was put on IR by the Lions and then sent to the practice squad. He was called up and dressed for one game against the ravens in October and on his 6th special teams snap returned a kick for 22 yards before he was hit awkwardly and dislocated his hip, ending his season. Hopefully he will have a chance to change that next year.

Tyler Johnson—WR—Los Angeles Rams

After two strong years in Tampa, Johnson played just 2 NFL games last year with Houston before being cut again. He signed with the Los Angeles Rams in the off-season who had him on the practice squad for most of the season before he was promoted for the season finale last Sunday. He made the most of it catching two of his three targets for 8 yards and a nice diving touchdown.

He will return to the practice squad and will not likely dress for this weekend’s playoff game barring injury.

Playoffs Week 1 @ Detroit Lions Saturday 7:00