Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Former Patriots in the playoffs
By Mike Reiss
As a spin-off from the weekly "Catching up with former Patriots" update, the following is a look at some of the notable players with ties to the franchise who are still involved in this year's playoffs:
S Sergio Brown (Colts) -- Played in 26 games with three starts for the Patriots in the 2010-2011 seasons after initially being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame. He is a core special teamer for the Colts, is tied for the team-lead with seven special teams tackles, and is often the first person down the field on the punt team.
CB Darius Butler (Colts) -- The 2009 second-round draft choice of the Patriots played in 29 games (8 starts) over two seasons. Has found a home with the Colts, where he is the nickel back and has a team-high four interceptions this season and a team-high 15 pass breakups.
K Shayne Graham (Saints) -- An injury replacement for Stephen Gostkowski in the second half of the 2010 season, he was a late-season signing in New Orleans this year. Since his time in New England, the 36-year-old has had stints with Miami, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.
DE Jeremy Mincey (Broncos) -- A 2006 sixth-round draft choice who never played a regular-season game in New England, he went on to greater success with the Jaguars and was a late-season signing by the Broncos, where he is deep on the depth chart.
C Rich Ohrnberger (Chargers) -- A fourth-round pick in 2009, he appeared in five games over three seasons (2009-2011). He's a backup and was pressed into emergency duty in Sunday's wild-card win and accounted well for himself. Spent the 2012 season with Arizona and his connection with former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, now the Chargers' offensive coordinator, led him to San Diego. He's appeared in 13 games this season, with one start.
S Ray Ventrone (49ers) -- Undrafted player out of Villanova appeared in 17 games from 2007-2008, bouncing between the practice squad and active roster, with his primary contributions coming on special teams. He earned the respect of special teams coach Brad Seely, who has taken him with him in coaching stops with the Browns and now the 49ers. Ventrone, now 31, has played in every game this season.
K Adam Vinatieri (Colts) -- Turned 41 years old on Dec. 28 and is the oldest player in the NFL. If he keeps this up, he could kick into his mid-40s. He is scheduled for free agency after the season.
TE Benjamin Watson (Saints) -- The 2004 first-round draft choice turned 33 on Dec. 18, and has served as the Saints' second-stringer alongside Jimmy Graham this season. In 15 games (7 starts), he totaled 19 catches for 226 yards and 2 TDs.
WR Wes Welker (Broncos) -- Starred in New England from 2007-2012, but was limited to 63.7 percent of the overall offensive snaps in his first year with the Broncos. He still had remarkable production -- 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.
RB Danny Woodhead (Chargers) -- Was a solid contributor from 2010-2012, appearing in 45 games (9 starts), and has emerged as a go-to player in his first year in San Diego -- 76 catches for 605 yards, 6 TDs, and 106 carries for 429 yards and 2 TDs.