Six former Brigham Young Cougars started the 2012 season on active NFL rosters. When the regular season concluded, 11 former BYU players had been active at some point during the season, but only nine were active the final week of the season. That is just the beginning of how volatile this NFL season was for former Cougars.
Each of the 11 players had a unique situation this season. There were players injured. There were players bouncing from one team to another. There were players without a job after a few weeks. There were players without a job until just a few weeks left in the season. There were practice squad players who were promoted to the active roster. There were players steady and strong all season long.
John Beck, QB, Houston Texans
After being cut from the Washington Redskins following the draft in April, Beck landed with the Texans. He made the final cut and entered the season as the number three quarterback. Four weeks into the season, Beck was released by the Texans. His season was done without playing a down during a game. This may have been his last season in the NFL.
Career Stats: 140-239 (58.6%), 1,417 yards, 3 TD, 7 Int., 67.6 passer rating.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Collie's season was marginally better than Beck's. Due to concussions during the preseason, Collie didn't see any action until game three. On his first catch of the year, he suffered a knee injury and would not play another down. Less than a week ago, the Colts decided to not resign Collie whose contract expired after the 2012 season.
Season Stats: 1 reception, 6 yards
Career Stats: 173 receptions, 1,845 yards, 16 TD
John Denney, LS, Miami Dolphins
Denney had another quiet season, which is a good thing, as the long snapper for the Miami Dolphins. He has been in the NFL for seven seasons now. The highlight of the season for him was his first forced fumble.
Season Stats: 2 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Career Stats: 31 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Brett Keisel, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite advancing in age, Keisel continued to play at a high level. He had the fourth most tackles in a season and second most sacks in a season for his career. While he played well, it was disappointing to not make the playoffs.
Season Stats: 46 tackles (26 solo), 4.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass deflection
Career Stats: 362 tackles (226 solo), 25 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 31 pass deflections, 1 TD
Dallas Reynolds, C, Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Reynolds had been, exclusively, a practice squad player the last three seasons. This year he made the active roster as the back-up center. Two games into the season he was playing full-time. The starting center was injured for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, the Eagles had a horrible season winning just four games.
Bryan Kehl, LB, Kansas City Chiefs/Washington Redskins
After shining for the Redskins in the preseason, Kehl was let go. He landed in Kansas City and played his first game of the season in game number five. The Chiefs, however, let him go after he played in just three of seven games. At that time, the Redskins decided they could use Kehl, after all, and resigned him for the final five weeks of the season. He ended up playing in eight regular season games and one playoff game this year.
Season Stats: 6 tackles (5 solo)
Career Stats: 116 tackles (90 solo), 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection
Vic So'oto, LB, Green Bay Packers/Oakland Raiders/Washington Redskins
So'oto had a promising end to 2011 with the Packers. An injury during the preseason of 2012 caused him to log a lot of miles--and not to play games. The Raiders still found enough value in So'oto to grab him off of the injury list a few weeks into the season. He stayed there, and played in four games, for the rest of the first half of the season. Then the Raiders dumped him, but the Packers came calling again, only to turn their backs on him a few weeks later. Fortunately, the Redskins were interested, and So'oto played the rest of the season in the nation's capital.
Season Stats: 1 tackle (1 solo)
Career Stats: 8 tackles (7 solo), 1 sack
Brady Poppinga, LB, Dallas Cowboys
After a strong 2011 season with the St. Louis Rams, Poppinga was no where to be found when training camps opened or when the season started in 2012. It wasn't until game 12 that the Cowboys found a need for Poppinga. In just four games, he was able to make 12 tackles.
Season Stats: 12 tackles (7 solo), 1 pass deflection
Career Stats: 307 tackles (225 solo), 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 10 pass deflections
Hebron Fangupo, DL, Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers
Fangupo signed a free agent deal with the Houston Texans after going undrafted. The Texans cut him, but his former head coach at USC Pete Carroll signed him onto the Seahawks' practice squad at the start of the season. In game 15, Seattle moved Fangupo onto the active roster. That was his only game as a Seahawk. He moved to Pittsburgh before the final game and finished the season as a Steeler.
Harvey Unga, RB, Chicago Bears
Unga had a tough two years in the NFL as a rookie in 2010 and again in 2011. It looked like 2012 wouldn't be any better. Just a few days before the final game of the season, Unga was promoted to the active roster for the first time in his three year career. While he didn't play that day, it was a milestone achievement for him.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Last, but not least, is Dennis Pitta. All other former BYU players were sitting at home after the first week of the playoffs. Pitta continued to play until the final minute of the NFL season. After emerging last year, Pitta solidified himself as a premier tight end in the league, and number one on the Ravens squad. Pitta had nearly triple the receptions and yards as fellow third year tight end Ed Dickson (21 rec., 225 yards, 0 TD).
Pitta and his teammates won the ultimate prize--the Vince Lombardi trophy when they beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Pitta caught a touchdown in that game.
Season Stats: 61 receptions, 669 yards, 7 TD
Post-Season Stats: 14 receptions, 163 yards, 3 TD
Career Stats: 102 receptions, 1,075 yards, 10 TD
Former BYU football player Andy Reid had his worst season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and was let go. His long track record of success with the Eagles enabled him to quickly land another head coaching job with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, before leaving the Eagles, Reid took care of Matt Reynolds and had him signed as a futures player, which allows him to use team facilities during the offseason even though he was not a member of the active roster during the season.
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