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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Six rookie defenders from Florida make final rosters and other Gators in the NFL

<p>New York Giants' Roger Lewis (18) is tackled by New York Jets' Marcus Maye (26) and Juston Burris (32) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)</p>

New York Giants' Roger Lewis (18) is tackled by New York Jets' Marcus Maye (26) and Juston Burris (32) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Multiple former Florida rookies each made their respective team’s rosters, and some are expected to start right away.

New Orleans Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone is expected to be one of the starting linebackers come Week 1.

The former Gator recorded two tackles in a New Orleans 13-0 win against the Houston Texans in preseason Week 3. On Sunday, it was announced that Anzalone made the Saints’ roster.

Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Teez Tabor also made the 53-man roster after a strong preseason.

While he didn’t play this week, Davis led the team with eight tackles in the Lions’ Week 3 loss to the New England Patriots. Tabor, on the other hand, recorded six solo tackles in the team’s 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Despite suffering a knee injury against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson returned to the field in the final week of the preseason.

In the Colt’s 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Wilson made three tackles (one) solo. While he may not take over the starting role right away, he is expected to be a huge contributor on defense.

After a strong preseason, New York Jets safety Marcus Maye earned his spot on the 53-man roster, as well.

Maye only recorded one tackle in the Jets 16-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the former Gator made 11 tackles over the first three weeks of preseason play.

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Caleb Brantley made the roster, but isn’t expected to receive much playing time.

Brantley made two tackles in the Brown’s 25-0 victory over the Chicago Bears and was out for most of the preseason with a finger and a shoulder injury before returning to practice on Aug. 23. He was battling for one of the final spots on the roster.

Reed expected to play in Week 1

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Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was recovering from a toe injury this preseason, resulting in limited play. As the season opener nears, however, it’s looking more likely that he will start Week 1.

Reed, who played at Florida from 2009-2012, played in just one game during the preseason, a two-catch performance for 12 yards in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Bengals in Week 3.

Despite a breakout performance in 2015 where he caught 87 passes for 952 yards, the former Gator has been struggling with various injuries throughout his five-year career.

If he can stay healthy, Reed is expected to have another big year, especially as one of the Redskins’ primary offensive targets.

Haden lands in Pittsburgh

Hours after getting cut by the Cleveland Browns, former Gators cornerback Joe Haden found a new home.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Haden to a three-year, $27 million deal on Aug. 30 after being released in the morning. Because he wasn’t on waivers, the veteran cornerback was free to sign with a new team after 4 p.m. that day.

Haden is a welcomed addition to the Steelers and, despite dealing with injuries over the last two seasons, is expected to start right away alongside second-year corner Artie Burns.

Over seven seasons in the NFL, the 2010 Browns first-round pick recorded at least 51 combined tackles in five of them. Haden played in the Pro-Bowl after his 2013 and 2014 seasons, years where he recorded four interceptions and 54 tackles and three interceptions and 73 tackles, respectively.

You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake, and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

New York Giants' Roger Lewis (18) is tackled by New York Jets' Marcus Maye (26) and Juston Burris (32) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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