Preseason update on the Spartans in the NFL

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Now that we're about halfway through preseason in the NFL, it's time to check in on the progress of some former Spartans.

Ah, the preseason. My favorite part of the NFL season, where MSU players thrive and give me hope they won't turn into the next Charles Rogers or Tony Mandarich. Since there have been many rumors surrounding Spartan players, let's check in on them and see what all the sound is about.

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Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon is the center of attention for MSU fans paying attention to their alumni in the NFL and for Steelers faithful. After last season concluded, there was a clear need for a power back. The Steelers picked up Le'Veon Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and things are looking up for him.

During a press conference last weekend, Tomlin alluded to Bell being a starter. Although he missed the Steelers first preseason game due to a sore knee, Bell is likely to see snaps with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' first team offense for the remainder of the preseason.

He has reportedly been doing very, very well during camp and is poised to become the starter come week one against the Tennessee Titans.

Plaxico Burress

Burress has had a long, crazy career, but things were finally winding down this offseason. He was slated to be a role-playing wide receiver in his 12th year in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but less than two weeks ago fell awkwardly on his shoulder during practice and tore his rotator cuff.

On Tuesday morning, the Steelers announced their decision to place Plaxico on the injured reserve list and replaced his spot on the roster with receiver Tyler Shaw out of Northwest Missouri State. This likely ends his career.

Kirk Cousins

Whlie Le'Veon Bell is the center of attention, the Kirk Cousins saga that's ongoing is very interesting as well. He proved last year to be much more than a serviceable understudy to Robert Griffin III after his injuries, and since he's still hurt, Cousins is playing with the first team in the preseason and way outperforming the expectations that were set for him.

With Griffin injured, Cousins started for the Redskins in their first preseason game against the Titans. In the two drives he played before he was taken out to give other Redskins quarterbacks playing time, he went 6/7 with 52 yards and a touchdown to go along with a QB rating of 137.2. From watching the game, it was clear that he didn't need much work in the preseason and that he's ready to play for real on Week One.

There are even rumors swirling around that Cousins could be used as trade bait because he has the potential to be a starter somewhere in the NFL. Only time will tell.

Kellen Davis

Since being drafted in 2008 by the Chicago Bears, Davis has made a name for himself in the "dropping passes" department at tight end. Fans were pretty much fed up with him at the end of last season, and as a result the Bears cut him in favor of Martellus Bennett. He was picked up and signed to a one-year deal with the Browns shortly thereafter, however.

In the Browns' first two preseason games, Davis only had one catch for 13 yards.

Brandon Fields

Entering his eighth year in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Fields is still one of the best punters in the NFL. Last season, he had a total of 74 punts and averaged 50.2 yards per punt, which was a league best.

So far this preseason (in two games), Fields is averaging 51.2 yards per punt.

Will Gholston

Since he was drafted in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gholston has not been in the news at all, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it.

By watching the Bucs' first preseason game— a 44-16 loss to the Ravens in which Gholston only had one assist on a tackle— it seems as if Tampa Bay is going to use Gholston as a backup, but still give him some time rotating in and out. If Gholston works as hard as he can, I'm fairly sure he could become a solid defensive end in the league. The truth of the matter is, though, that it's part of Gholston's nature to take plays off and not work hard in practice, which won't bode well for him in the NFL.

Brian Hoyer

Hoyer, a serviceable backup to Tom Brady in New England from 2009-2011, was vying for the starting job in Arizona last year before being ousted by superstars to the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. He was cut by the Cardinals in May (while the one and only Drew Stanton remained) before being picked up by the Browns two days later. He'll most likely end up as a third string quarterback there before Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.

In his first preseason game with the Browns, he performed very well, going 10/14 with 100 yards and a touchdown, while he only went 1/3 with 19 yards in his second. Of course, these were just preseason games, but it's not out of the question to say he could move up to number two on the depth chart.

Keshawn Martin

Last season could probably be considered a success for Keshawn Martin. Although he only had a total of 10 receptions for 85 yards for the Houston Texans, he was very versatile and was used to return punts and kicks as well as catch the ball. The only problem entering this season for Martin is the competition. The Texans have nine— that's right, NINE— active wide receivers on their roster entering the season, which means they'll probably cut some. Martin definitely has an advantage over maybe four or five of the other receivers, but that doesn't mean his job is safe by any means.

In the Texans' first preseason game on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings, Martin had two receptions for a total of 30 yards.

Domata Peko

Domata Peko and his beautiful hair are still going strong in Peko's eighth season in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He had a combined 53 tackles last season as one of the Bengals' top defensive tackles. Nothing about Peko's spot on Cincinnati is expected to change anytime soon, so expect to see him in on a lot of plays again this season. He's also been featured on HBO's Hard Knocks.

Trenton Robinson

Since the preseason began, there hasn't been much noise surrounding Robinson, but he's been reportedly playing safety with the 49ers first team this summer, and is vying for a starting role. It's interesting, considering how far down the depth chart he was last season before the Niners lost most of their safeties to injury.

Dion Sims

After not seeing much time on the field and having no receptions in his first preseason game, Dolphins rookie tight end Dion Sims had two receptions for 15 yards in Miami's second preseason game.

Right now, the Dolphins' website has Sims listed at fourth on the depth chart at tight end, behind Dustin Keller, Charles Clay, and Michael Egnew. Realistically, Sims could probably take over as the third or maybe even the second tight end above Charles Clay, but I don't see him making big strides quite yet. He still has to become a better blocking end in the NFL. He'll be an asset in the pass game for the Dolphins, though, if necessary.

Drew Stanton

Despite a career QB rating of 63.1, Stanton has managed to find good backup quarterback gigs around the league for seven years. Since coming in late in the season for injured Matt Stafford and Shaun Hill to lead the Detroit Lions to a 6-10 record in 2010 (he exceeded expectations), he has not thrown a pass in a regular season game.

Stanton was signed by the Arizona Cardinals in March, and was fighting quarterbacks Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer and Caleb TerBush for the starting job, when the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer. Fortunately, Stanton wasn't the QB that was cut (it was Hoyer), and is most likely going to be the second string quarterback behind Palmer, right where he belongs.

Kevin Vickerson

Entering his eighth NFL season (fourth with the Broncos), Vickerson is locked in to be Denver's starting defensive tackle once again. It took Vickerson a while to get his career going, but after signing with the Broncos in 2010, he hasn't looked back. Last season he played in all 16 games— he started in 14 of them— and racked up 40 tackles.

In the Broncos' first preseason game against the 49ers, Vickerson had two tackles.

Jerel Worthy

Jerel Worthy is coming off a pretty successful rookie campaign in which he had 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks, but ended on a very, very bad note was benched towards the end of the season for a "bone bruise" in his knee that turned out to be a torn ACL. He had reconstructive surgery and there were conflicting reports around the league; some said he would play this coming season, some said he would sit out.

Recent reports have been saying that while there isn't a timetable for Worthy's return, he should be back by the end of this season. The reconstructive surgery was a success and there was no damage done beyond his ACL injury.

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If you have any questions about where other Spartans are in terms of their NFL careers, feel free to ask in the comments or tweet me. I'm @BOTRC on twitter.

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