Coogs in the Pros - 2017 Training Camp / Preseason

Good for Joey. He’s been working hard this offseason and may finally get his shot.

Mbu, meanwhile, saw the most run with the first-team defensive unit during offseason workouts. Undrafted out of the University of Houston, the 6-foot-3, 323 pounder spent the 2016 season on Washington’s practice squad.

Here’s the update on where our pro Coogs are right now:

P Richie Leone

LB Tyus Bowser

CB William Jackson III
DB Brandon Wilson

CB Howard Wilson - Fractured Kneecap - May start season on IR

CB DJ Hayden

Green Bay
LB Derrick Mathews

DB Lee Hightower

LA Chargers
RB Kenneth Farrow
S Adrian McDonald

DE Cameron Malveaux

QB Case Keenum

New England
LB Elandon Roberts

New Orleans
LS Thomas Gafford

WR Greg Ward Jr.

WR Demarcus Ayers

San Francisco
FB/TE Tyler McCloskey

LS Nolan Frese

Tampa Bay
RB Charles Sims

DT Joey Mbu

And you?

I’m an inside-outside guy. I’m a space player and I know Coach Tomlin loves guys that can make big plays in space. We all bring something different to the table. So it’s hard to get opportunities – you have to take advantage of them when you do.

He didn’t do quite enough to crack the 53 man roster (much to the chagrin of some fans, including myself), but was signed to the Practice Squad as soon as he cleared waivers, where he spent the entirety of the season.

Having now had a full year of practice to adjust to the NFL, I’m optimistic about McDonald’s chances and he’s one of the players I’m most excited to watch in preseason. There’s definitely a spot to be won at safety, and McDonald just makes plays - and unlike Adrian Phillips, he can make them in games and not just practice.

You can already envision a bit of trickery to the offense when Ward is in the slot, but he has also been honing his skills as a punt returner in the offseason, learning from one of the all-time greats, Darren Sproles.

According to Ward, it all comes back to that one thing.

“Just trying to get better, man.”

Even though he may not see the field much this season, Jackson has his roster spot very secure. It’s very rare to see a team give up on a first-round pick after just one season, and even though injuries cost Jackson his rookie season, he’s still a big unknown at this point. The Bengals will almost certainly give him at least four years to show what he’s capable of, and he’d have to struggle mightily for the team to not pick up his fifth-year option.

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Beyond those five receivers, I would order the rest of the group competing for a job like so:

Marcus Johnson: The team liked him last year, but he got injured during camp, which cost him a roster spot.

Shelton Gibson: Very poor performance during OTAs and minicamp, but as a fifth-round pick, he’ll get every opportunity to climb out of the hole he dug.

Greg Ward: College quarterback who has looked comfortable making the transition back to receiver, where he played early in his career at the University of Houston.

“Elandon since very early on that we’ve had him here, he definitely has an explosive power to him and he does a great job of using his leverage,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said prior to the AFC East franchise’s comeback Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium. "He has some really good natural leverage that he can use to play that physical brand of football and be able to come downhill and get into some guys and separate and find the ball.

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Although Malveaux had four career sacks in college, the Dolphins decided to bring him in for their offseason program and training camp. Miami has a lot of depth on their defensive line, so it will be a challenge for Malveaux to make the team’s final roster.

Although Mbu didn’t know specifically how much muscle he’s gained and fat he’s lost, he’s around 320 pounds with training camp less than a week away. The results have been noticeable in his arms and shoulders after working out with Williams, running backs Adrian Peterson, Melvin Gordon and Ty Montgomery, and defensive linemen Jerry Hughes, Danielle Hunter and Tom Johnson.

The Bengals are currently listing Wilson on the roster as a safety and he feels that will be the best spot for him to start his NFL career.

“I feel like safety will be a good fit for me,” he said. “As far as playing other positions I’m not sure. It’s whatever the organizations want to do with me. I know I’m going to be on a lot of special teams but as far as playing running back, I’m not sure about that. We will see.”

“He’s had a remarkable offseason,” said Ro Simon, Jackson’s Houston-based trainer at Pro Fit. “The guy has been working. He’s focused on getting more savvy in coverage. I think he’s going to be a standout at the cornerback position this year.”

After dealing with the chest injury, Jackson is hoping to be a productive part of the Bengals’ defense after training this summer in the Houston heat.

“I just want to make some plays,” Jackson said. “I want to show the fan base and the team why they drafted me in the first round. They’re really excited. They got me excited because they’re excited for me. I’m ready to show them what I got.”

Undrafted rookie free agent Greg Ward had a great first day of camp. He made an acrobatic one-handed grab in the end zone, and then later improvised with Matt McGloin on a broken pay to find space in the corner of the end zone for a full-speed toe-tap TD catch. Ward played wide receiver when he first got to the University of Houston, then played quarterback, and is now playing receiver in the pros. Even with his history as a receiver early in his college career, his transition from quarterback to receiver has been impressive.

“I wasn’t worried about getting drafted,” Ward said. “I knew regardless if I did [get drafted] I would still have to make the team. So just being drafted is everybody’s dream. I would have [been] blessed and happy if I got drafted, but unfortunately I didn’t. My mindset is still the same. You still have to make the team. You still have to grind.”

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