I don’t remember the exact circumstances that led me to read the Players’ Tribune piece by Lavonte David several years ago. I’m not a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, nor am I a fan of Nebraska, his last stop in college.
In those days, Facebook’s data mining hadn’t yet progressed to the point where one click on a link outside of their app would let them present you with dozens of related ads and articles, so it probably wasn’t there. Wherever I saw it, I probably decided to give it a read because, in his days at Nebraska, he was one of those players on another team you couldn’t help but respect, and maybe even kind of like, even if he was a wrecking ball against your team.
We’ve mentioned David in this piece before, because in the context of stat-dependent pieces, he forces his way into the conversation, and that was true again against the Packers - 8 tackles, 2 TFL, 1.5 sacks. Reading David’s firsthand account of his road to the NFL, what sticks out is how many places there were for things to go wrong for him, for a great talent to simply slip through the sport’s fingers and never be heard from again, but here he is, several years into his pro career, consistently smashing rushing attacks.
Nathan Gerry (Nebraska) Eagles LB: Although a cursory search of EaglesWeb indicates that the fanbase is, uhh, not thrilled with Gerry’s ability overall, the Eagles staff sees enough to play him big snaps, and his counting numbers are up there at least. In a losing effort against the Ravens’ formidable rushing attack, he tallied 9 tackles and a pass deflection.
Ja’Whuan Bentley (Purdue) Patriots LB: After a Purdue career marred by injury and playing for Darrell Hazell, Bentley spent his first couple years in New England as a reserve, Bentley might be the new anchor of a Patriots defense that saw Kyle Van Noy, Donta Hightower, and Jamie Collins all leave in free agency, and this week’s numbers reflect that: 12 tackles, 2 TFL, and half a sack against the Broncos.
Vonn Bell (Ohio State) Bengals S: After spending his rookie years with the Saints, Bell succumbed to the siren song of Ohio and returned to the - (Googles) Buckeye State? Really? OK, whatever - where he’s slid into the starting lineup and continued his solid play. 9 tackles today in, well, another loss on account of Bengals, but their money’s good too, I suppose.
Khari Willis (Michigan State) Colts S: On the other sideline, Willis, still on his rookie contract, also looks like a solid pro. With the Bengals determined to stay balanced on offense despite an anemic rushing attack, Willis notched 10 tackles.
Cardinals @ Cowboys: Arizona makes an uncommon appearance on Monday night, and brings a modest Big Ten contingent: Minnesota LB De’Vondre Campbell and QB Chris Streveler and Michigan C Mason Cole are the only former B1Ggies suiting up for the desert birds.
The Cowboys, of course, are not strangers to Monday night and prominent stages in general, deserved or not. Ohio State product RB Zeke Elliott is the headliner, but fellow Buckeye Noah Brown (WR) is also rostered by the ‘Boys. Illinois WR Malik Turner, Michigan TE Sean McKeon, Wisconsin C Tyler Biadasz, Penn State OL Connor McGovern, Indiana OT Brandon Knight, Nebraska LB Luke Gifford, Purdue CB Anthony Brown, and Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis make this one of the deeper B1G contingents in the whole league.