Monday, July 29, 2013

A look at recent Aggies, and their chances in respective NFL training camps

(Jonte Green, left, had a surprising rookie year for the Detroit Lions in 2012. He'll look to continue his progress as a professional player in this his second NFL season/Courtesy photo)

Last year, two New Mexico State Aggies - Davon House and Jonte Green - not only made NFL rosters, but contributed to their respective teams.

Taking the field as cornerbacks, both had moments as front-line players, House suiting up for the Green Bay Packers and Green for the Detroit Lions.

With training camps opening last week throughout the National Football League, here's a look at not just House's and Green's progressions entering the 2013 season, but some other former Aggie football players trying to make NFL rosters:

Davon House
After being taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, House showed marked improvement - at least from the standpoint of playing time - during his second season with the Packers. House started five games in 2012, picking up 26 tackles, recording five pass breakups and also a sack. Last week, when House returned to Las Cruces to host a football kids clinic, he said the Packers coaching staff was happy with his performance, adding he played with a torn labrum for much of last season. House said his goal was to be a full-time starter in 2013. Whether or not that comes to fruition, expect the third-year pro to continue seeing increased playing time in the Green Bay secondary.

Jonte Green
Green had a surprise season last year for the Lions. After an inconsistent career at NMSU (a promising sophomore year, a down junior campaign, followed by a better senior season) he was selected by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Green would go on to have a pretty good rookie campaign with the Lions, starting five games and recording 29 tackles, an interception and a sack (such production showed he could play on the NFL level, and would typically exceed expectations for similar late-round picks). The Lions did take Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay in the second round of this past April's draft, so Green could be pushed heading into 2013. With that being said, if he continues to progress and prove himself, he should have a shot with the team once again, and might even have a bright future in Detroit.

Taveon Rogers
The Cincinnati Bengals signed Rogers last year as an undrafted free agent and moved him from wide receiver to cornerback. Rogers spent the year on Cincinnati's injured reserve list, although still possesses the quality that made him a special college player: exceptional speed. While Cincinnati holds veteran cornerbacks on it's depth chart (Leon Hall, Terrance Newman and Adam 'Pacman' Jones), along with former first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick waiting in the wings, Rogers still brings value as a special teams player (he was a standout kick returner during his Aggie tenure). One thing NMSU fans can keep an eye on: the Bengals will be featured on this year's edition of HBO's "Hard Knocks," which takes an in-depth look into the team's summer training camp regimen. The season premiere is scheduled for Aug. 6, and Rogers could get some air time to display his ability.

Jeremy Harris
Harris was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round of this past April's draft, where he'll be reunited with former Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker (who now coaches the Jaguars secondary). Standing at 6-foot-2, Harris has the size to play NFL cornerback and the Jaguars are extremely young in the defensive backfield (five of the team's eight 2013 draft picks were used on the secondary). While it seems Harris at least has a chance to make the team, he's still just two years removed from playing junior college football and could need some time to develop into a pro player. Perhaps he could make one of the Jaguars final roster spots, or be placed on the team's practice squad going into the year. In any event, for a seventh-round pick, he finds himself in a good situation, with the right coach on a team that offers opportunity.

Kemonte Bateman, Donte Savage
Both of these undrafted free agents are currently on NFL rosters.
Bateman, who signed with the Denver Broncos, is a polished wide receiver who could have a shot with one of the NFL's elite teams (and a chance to take the field with, and learn from, some elite players on offense, including quarterback Peyton Manning).
As for Savage, he had somewhat of a disappointing senior season at NMSU, although was still signed by Green Bay this past spring. He does face a challenge, however, particularly after switching positions from defensive line to linebacker upon joining the pro club.

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