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NFL Vols regular season wrap-up

This year, 32 former Tennessee football players earned the right to play for an NFL franchise. Take a look at how the NFL Vols did during the regular season and what lies ahead for them in the playoffs

Jason Allen, CB Cincinnati
Allen played in just four games this season in his first year with the Bengals making three tackles. The veteran cornerback registered two tackles against Washington in a 38-31 win at the end of September but was inactive until a three-game stretch in December.

Allen’s Bengals slid into the playoffs in a wild card spot with a 7-5 record in 2012. They will square off with the Texans on Saturday, January 5 at 4:30 p.m. on NBC.

Robert Ayers, DE Denver
Ayers played in 15 of the Broncos’ 16 regular season games. His lone missed game came after the passing of his father. Ayers compiled 16 tackles on the season as well as two sacks and two passes defended. In his return to the Carolinas, Ayers had a career game in a 36-14 blowout registering five tackles, both of his passes defended and a monster 12-yard sack of Cam Newton.

The Broncos sewed up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a resounding 38-3 win over Kansas City, Sunday. They will have a bye week this weekend and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will play the lowest winning seed from the AFC Wild Card round (Ravens/Colts/Bengals) on January 12 at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.

Eric Berry, DB Kansas City
In his return to the grid iron after suffering a torn ACL in 2011, Eric Berry finds himself back in the Pro Bowl as an NFC starter. The Georgia native started and played all 16 games at strong safety for the Chiefs this season making 86 tackles, 73 unassisted. While also tacking on 10 passes defended and an interception.

Berry hit the 10-tackle mark twice this season making a career-best 11 tackles against both Cincinnati on Nov. 18 and Oakland on Dec. 16.

Kevin Burnett, LB Miami
Burnett, in his second season with Miami, played and started all 16 games of the year at inside linebacker for the Dolphins making 80 tackles, 2.5 sacks and defending five passes. In his last three seasons, Burnett has notched at least 80 tackles (244 total) after tallying 164 in his first five seasons in the NFL.

Burnett had a season high 11 tackles against New England and hit the double digit mark for the second time in the season finale against the Patriots on Dec. 30.

Britton Colquitt, P Denver
In his fourth season with the Broncos, Britton Colquitt finished the season with a 46.3 yards/punt average dropping 27 of his 67 punts inside the 20 yard line and finishing with just four touchbacks. Broncos’ opponents only notched 197 return yards off of 33 punts they were able to return for a 2.94 return average, a career best.

The Broncos sewed up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a resounding 38-3 win over Kansas City, Sunday. They will have a bye week this weekend and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will play the lowest winning seed from the AFC Wild Card round (Ravens/Colts/Bengals) on January 12 at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.

Dustin Colquitt, P Kansas City
Voted to his first career Pro Bowl, Colquitt set a single-season franchise record with 45 punts inside the 20-yard line. Colquitt set a new NFL mark for most punts inside the 20-yard line in a single season passing Arizona P Dave Zastudil's 2012 mark of 44 with a booming 55 yard punt to the Denver 15-yard line on the Chiefs last possession.

In 2012, Colquitt punted 83 times for 3,887 yards, marking the seventh-consecutive time in his eight-year career that he has punted for more than 3,000 yards in a single season. He has a gross average of 46.8 yards per kick, the highest gross average of his career, and carries a 40.8 net average, a career best. To go along with his 45 punts inside the 20, he has seven touchbacks and a season-long punt of 71 yards.

Morgan Cox, LS Baltimore
Cox was the Ravens primary longsnapper snapping on each and every punt and kick of the 2012 season, his third in the NFL. For the Ravens Cox snapped a total 164 times on 83 punts, 44 extra points and 33 field goal attempts.

The Ravens earned the fourth seed in the playoffs in the AFC and will play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS.

Arian Foster, RB Houston
Arian Foster will take part in his third-straight Pro Bowl earning the start at running back for the AFC. Foster has tallied 1,424 yards rushing in his fourth NFL season, the second highest of his career, playing and starting all 16 games in 2012.

Foster also rushed for 15 touchdowns, leading all NFL rushers and caught another two. His 17 total touchdowns is also an NFL best. Foster is sixth in the NFL with his 1,424 yards and second in the AFC behind Jamaal Charles.

Foster and the Texans will play host to Cincinnati this Saturday, January 5 at 4:30 p.m. after earning the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Ramon Foster, OT Pittsburgh
Ramon Foster has started and played every game on the offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. He played the first 14 games of the year at right guard before switching to the left side after injuries to his line mates.

Foster helped the Steelers to 1,537 rushing yards and 3,787 passing yards in 2012, 5,324 total.

Aubrayo Franklin, DT San Diego
In his first season with the Chargers, Franklin played in 12 games, starting nine of them at nose tackle. Franklin finished the season with 20 tackles, but was placed on the injured reserve for the final game of the season after suffering a knee injury.

Omar Gaither, LB Oakland
After playing with Houston during the preseason, Omar Gaither found himself in the Raider silver and black during week 11 of the regular season.

Gaither, who was added to the roster in a backup role, started the final three games of the year after the suspension of Rolando McClain and took on the role of the quarterback of the defense. The seven year NFL veteran finished the shortened season with 14 tackles.

Jabari Greer, CB New Orleans
Jabari Greer recovered from a sports hernia suffered in the preseason to have a solid 2012 season for the New Orleans Saints. The veteran, who has played with the Saints for the last four seasons of his nine year NFL career, finished with 51 tackles, 13 passes defended, and three interceptions in 2012.

Greer played in 14 games for New Orleans, starting 13 of them. He missed the first game of the year with his sports hernia and was inactive in the final game of the regular season with a concussion suffered against Dallas.

Nick Guess, LS Oakland
In his first year out of the University of Tennessee, Nick Guess spent the entire preseason with the San Diego Chargers, before being signed to the Oakland Raiders roster for a single game in 2012.

Parys Haralson, LB San Francisco
Parys Haralson had a solid preseason for the 49ers at linebacker, even getting one of the hardest hits of the summer against Peyton Manning, but unfortunately, Haralson tore his triceps muscle at the beginning of September and missed the 2012 season with the injury.

Haralson’s 49ers earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC with an 11-4-1 regular season record and will wait to see who they play on Saturday, January 12 at 8 p.m. on FOX. They will face the lowest winning seed from the NFC Wild-Card round, either the Packers, Redskins or Seahawks.

Montario Hardesty, RB Cleveland
In his second NFL season, Montario Hardesty played 13 games for the Browns making one start. Used primarily as a back-up to Trent Richardson, Hardesty finished as the Browns’ leading rusher a handful of games.

Hardesty ended the season with 65 rushing attempts for a career best 271 yards and his first career touchdown. He also tallied 2 receptions for 16 yards.

Malik Jackson, DE Denver
In his first NFL season, rookie Malik Jackson played in 14 games for the Broncos notching five tackles.

Jackson played in each and every game following the Broncos’ bye week to conclude the regular season.

The Broncos sewed up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a resounding 38-3 win over Kansas City, Sunday. They will have a bye week this weekend and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will play the lowest winning seed from the AFC Wild Card round (Ravens/Colts/Bengals) on January 12 at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.

Peyton Manning, QB Denver
Peyton Manning, in his 15th season in the NFL, set many career bests, Broncos records and NFL records in his first season re-donning an orange uniform.

Manning earned a spot in his 12th Pro Bowl in his return to the grid iron. His 12 selections are the most for a quarterback in NFL history. He is also the first quarterback to make a Pro Bowl one year removed from missing a full season due to injury or illness.

Manning also set some NFL records in 2012. Against Houston at the beginning of the season, Manning recorded his 64th career 300+ yard game, an NFL best passing Dan Marino in the record books. During the season Manning notched nine 300+ yard game, tying his career best and setting a Bronco record, while extending his NFL record to 72 games.

Manning finished the year with a three touchdown game against Kansas City to earn homefield advantage in the 2012 playoffs. The three TD performance was the 73rd of his career, passing Brett Favre for the NFL record. His 37 touchdowns in 2012 are also an NFL record for a quarterback aged 36 or older.

Manning finished the regular season with an 84.1 total quarterback rating, the only player better in the last five seasons was Aaron Rodgers who had an 86.2 rating last season.

Manning also threw for 4,659 passing yards, the second highest total in his career and a Bronco’s record. He now holds single season Broncos records for passing yards, completions (400), touchdowns (37) and passer rating (105.8).

This season marked the 12th time in his career that Manning has passed for over 4,000 yards and he became the fifth player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards with two different teams. He joins Drew Bledsoe (New England, Buffalo), Brett Favre (Green Bay, Minnesota), Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon (Oilers, Vikings) and Kurt Warner (St. Louis, Arizona).

The Broncos sewed up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a resounding 38-3 win over Kansas City, Sunday. They will have a bye week this weekend and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will play the lowest winning seed from the AFC Wild Card round (Ravens/Colts/Bengals) on January 12 at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.

Jerod Mayo, LB New England
Jerod Mayo will enjoy his second Pro Bowl after being elected a starter at linebacker for the AFC. Mayo has led the AFC in tackles for the majority of the season and for a few weeks was the NFL’s leading tackler. Mayo, who played and started all 16 games at middle linebacker for the Patriots went over the century mark for the fourth time in his five year NFL career and finished with a team and AFC-leading 147 tackles. He ranks fourth in the NFL.

Mayo also tacked on three sacks, three passes defended, four forced fumbles (a career-high after tallying four through his first four seasons) and an interception. Mayo is hailed as the quarterback of the Patriots defense and has led the team to its fourth-straight AFC East divisional championship and fourth-straight playoff appearance in his five seasons with the Patriots.

Mayo and the Patriots earned a first round bye with a No. 2 seed and will await their opponent, the highest winning seed from the AFC Wild-Card Round, for the final game of the Divisional Playoffs on Sunday, January 13 at 4:30 p.m. They could meet the Texans, Ravens or Colts.

Turk McBride, DE New Orleans
In his sixth season in the NFL, and second with the New Orleans Saints, McBride was hampered with injuries in 2012 and played just seven games making six tackles and defending one pass.

Jacques McClendon, OL Atlanta
Jacques McClendon, who spent the preseason with the Detroit Lions before being cut at the end of the summer, spent some of the 2012 regular season with the Steelers and Falcons. On Oct. 17, McClendon signed on with the practice squad for Pittsburgh before being released on Nov. 2. He was resigned by the Atlanta Falcons on the practice squad on Nov. 7 where he has remained for the rest of the season.

McClendon’s Falcons earned the No. 1 NFC seed and a home playoff advantage with a 13-3 regular season record. They will face the highest winning seed from the NFC Wild-Card Round on Sunday, January 13 at 1 p.m. They have a chance to play the Redskins, Seahawks or Vikings.

Tony McDaniel, DE Miami
In his seventh season in the NFL, Tony McDaniel spent 2012 battling injuries. He played in 11 games for the Dolphins on the defensive line and registered 11 tackles, assisted with a sack and deflected a Tom Brady pass for a near interception.

Robert Meachem, WR San Diego
After spending his first five seasons in the NFL with New Orleans, Robert Meachem entered into his first season with San Diego in 2012. Meachem played in 15 games on the season, starting three, but was not targeted in the final six games of the season and registered just 14 catches on the year for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

Marvin Mitchell, LB Minnesota
Marvin Mitchell battled the injury bug in 2012 but finished the regular season playing in 11 games while starting one for the Minnesota Vikings. Mitchell finished with nine tackles and a forced fumble on the year.

With a 37-34 win over Green Bay on Sunday, the Vikings earned the right to their playoff spot and will rematch the Packers this weekend on Saturday, January 5 at 8 p.m. in the Wild-Card Round. This time the game will be in Green Bay, instead of Minneapolis where the game was held this past weekend.

Denarius Moore, WR Oakland
Denarius Moore began the 2012 season slowly after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason. After missing the first game of the season, Moore played and started in the final 15 games making a career high 51 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns.

Moore netted a season best 104 yards on five catches and a touchdown at Atlanta, the lone game he hit the 100 yard-receiving mark on the season.

Tauren Poole, RB Carolina
Tauren Poole saw his NFL career get off to a fast start after notching 56 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown in two preseason games; however Poole suffered an injury to his ribs and was placed on the injured reserve on Sept. 1.

Chris Scott, OL Buffalo
Chris Scott saw a lot of America in 2012. He began his season with the Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp. Scott was waived by the Steelers and signed to the Green Bay Packers practice squad where he remained until the middle of October.

On October 31, Scott signed with the Buccaneers practice squad but was cut and later signed with the Tennessee Titans practice squad at the beginning of December. Two days after signing with the Titans, Scott was signed by the Buffalo Bills to their 53-man active roster where he remained through the regular season. He was not active for any games.

Jarrod Shaw, OL Cleveland
After spending the last two seasons with Cleveland as a member of the practice squad, Jarrod Shaw was elevated to the 53-man roster midway through the 2012 regular season. He was not active for any games however in 2012.

Donte’ Stallworth, WR New England
Donte’ Stallworth returned to New England during the 2012 preseason after playing for them last during the 2007 season. With many wide receivers in camp, Stallworth was cut prior to the regular season, however, with many injuries to the wide receiver corps during the season, Stallworth was called upon in week 14 to rejoin the Patriots.

Stallworth had a chance for a long pass play in the first half of the 42-14 Monday Night Football victory over Houston, but dropped the pass. He connected with Tom Brady for a 63 yard touchdown in the second half for what would be his only catch and touchdown of the season. On the play, a Houston defender landed on Stallworth’s ankle and the NFL vet was placed on the injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Luke Stocker, TE Tampa Bay
In his second season in the NFL, Luke Stocker had a career year playing in all 16 games and starting in 11. Stocker finished with 16 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown, his first in the NFL. Stocker’s TD came on a one yard pass against the Dallas Cowboys. He had the best game of his career in his final game of 2012 making three catches for 50 yards, both career-highs.

Scott Wells, C St. Louis
After spending the first eight seasons of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers, Scott Wells took on the 2012 season with St. Louis playing and starting in seven games. Wells left the game in week one of the regular season after suffering a broken foot. He was placed on the IR but designated to return and did in week 10.

Dan Williams, DT Arizona
2012 was a breakout season for Dan Williams. After reporting to training camp out of shape in his first two seasons in the NFL, Williams took a spring meeting to heart and weighed in at a career low 314 pounds and ready to work. He played in 15 games on the year, starting 11 of them at nose tackle while making a career best 44 tackles and defending a pass.

Jason Witten, TE Dallas
In his 10th NFL season, Jason Witten saw many NFL and Cowboy records fall. He was also elected to his eight Pro Bowl after missing out last season. All might not have happened after suffering a lacerated spleen during the first game of the preseason.

Witten rebounded nicely and finished the year playing and starting in all 16 games on the year, making a NFL record for a tight end 110 catches for 1,039 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth time in his career that he broke the 1,000-yard barrier.

Jason Witten also hit the 800 career catch mark in the final game of the regular season, just the third tight end and 26th player in the history of the NFL to do so, and the fastest. Witten accomplished the feat in just 159 games. With 806 career catches, he is just 10 away from passing Shannon Sharpe (815, 1990-2003) for second place on the All-Time NFL receptions by tight ends list.

He also set a new Cowboys’ record for career catches passing Michael Irvin (750) earlier in the season.

Witten also became the second Tennessee product with 100 catches in a season joining Carl Pickens, who had 100 catches in 1996 with the Cincinnati Bengals. Witten now holds the record for most catches by a former Vol in a season with 103.

In a tough loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 28, Jason Witten broke his own Cowboys receiving record and set a league record for tight ends with 18 catches for 167 yards. Only Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens and Tom Fears have ever caught as many or more passes at any position.


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