ProToppers Primer: the 2014 NFL season kicks off


It was an exciting preseason for the NFL, and quite frankly, I cared more about this preseason more than any other in history. We saw nine ProToppers play on a weekly basis, the highest number of former Hilltoppers in history, and while they all didn’t make it through to the final cut, a majority of them came pretty darn close.

We are down to four guys who are on the 53-man active roster, with Antonio Andrews, Derrius Brooks and Andrew Jackson still with teams, but on their practice squad.

Here are the fellas who will be playing this coming Sunday.

Jonathan Dowling – Oakland Raiders (vs. New York Jets, Sunday @ 12:00 p.m.)
Dowling played in all four preseason games for the Raiders, and collected five tackles (including two in the one-point victory against Detroit), including a pass deflected. Among the people Dowling beat out for a roster spot was fellow safety Brandon Ross, who started 13 games for Oakland in 2013. Dowling is listed as the #2 safety behind veteran Charles Woodson.

Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts (vs. Denver Broncos, Sunday @ 7:30 p.m.)
Doyle is getting ready to enter his second year in the NFL, and caught two balls for a total of 18 yards this preseason. Doyle started four of the 15 games he played in last year, and caught five passes for 19 yards. Hopefully his usage will be expanded this year, but it’ll be tough being the #3 tight end behind Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

Bobby Rainey – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Carolina Panthers, Sunday @ 3:25 p.m.)
Rainey is entering his third year in the NFL, with his third team, but has begun to make a name for himself and was probably the safest bet to make the roster coming into the training camp season. In four games this preseason, Rainey carried the ball 32 times for 65 yards, and saw his production decrease in each game, while his carries increased in the first three. Rainey is coming off 10 games with the Bucs in which he started six and carried the ball 137 times for 532 yards with five scores. Rainey again is the backup to Doug Martinbut another injury to him might see Rainey get that top spot on the depth chart.

Quanterus Smith – Denver Broncos (vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sunday @ 7:30 p.m.)
Q Smith is healthy, and ready to make a ruckus in 2014. Smith played this preseason, but only recorded stats in one game, in which he had four tackles and got credit for half a sack. Smith is listed as the second right defensive end behind a household name in DeMarcus Ware.