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NFL: Vying for time

Free agency shifts have given new hope to some local products in the pros

Posted: August 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Miami Dolphins quarterbacks Chad Henne (7), and Hart High graduate Matt Moore (8) will compete for the starting job this season.

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With a lockout causing a four-month stalemate in the NFL this offseason, things moved quickly once the new collective bargaining agreement was finally sealed on Aug. 5.

Players moved around, contracts were signed and rookies were finally able to take the field with their new teams.

Now that preseason has begun, things are starting to settle down and the Santa Clarita Valley players now in the NFL are trying to get comfortable in their surroundings. Not all of them have moved teams, but due to players moving around them, their situations have changed.

In some cases, those situations have changed for the better, but others have been limited by injuries.

At this point, the priority for players is making the final 53-man roster.

Matt Moore — Miami Dolphins, quarterback

Injuries and inconsistency have cost Moore in the past. But that was with the Carolina Panthers. Now, the fifth-year pro is making the most of a fresh start in Miami after signing a two-year deal with the team on July 29. So far so good for the Hart High graduate, who put up the best numbers in Miami’s 28-23 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. Coming in for starter Chad Henne in the second quarter, Moore went 11-for-18 with 123 yards two touchdowns and an interception. That was compared to Henne’s 4-for-8, one-touchdown, two-interception day. All indications are that Moore will have a chance to compete for the starting job this season.

Jason Pierre-Paul — New York Giants, defensive lineman

Big-money defensive end Osi Umenyiora is dealing with a knee injury and still isn’t happy with his contract with the Giants. This could spell good news for second-year defensive end Pierre-Paul, who spent last season as Umenyiora’s backup. The former College of the Canyons lineman was drafted in the first round by the Giants in 2010 and he proceeded to play in all 16 games, totalling 30 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. So far, Pierre-Paul is doing plenty to impress teammates.

“He has a kind of a swagger about him before he’s going on the football field, knowing what is expected of him and going and doing it,” said fellow Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck in an interview earlier this week on the team’s website.
With Umenyiora still nursing his injury, Pierre-Paul is likely to get the start against the Carolina Panthers today in the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.

Isaac Sopoaga — San Francisco 49ers, defensive lineman

For most of his seven-year career, Sopoaga has been a backup for the 49ers’ defensive line. Though he has earned a starting job at tackle the past three seasons, only now does the former College of the Canyons player have a chance to be the centerpiece of the team’s defensive front. In the initial release of the 2011 depth chart, San Francisco listed Sopoaga as the starting nose tackle, an important positition in the base 3-4 scheme used by the 49ers.

He’ll take the place of last year’s nose tackle, Aubrayo Franklin, who was picked up by the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 2. The Saints and 49ers played in a preseason matchup on Friday, but Sopoaga didn’t participate because he’s still healing from a hamstring injury suffered a week before training camp.

Shane Vereen — New England Patriots, running back

One day after the rookie second-round pick signed with the Patriots, Vereen left practice on Aug. 3 with what was reported as a hamstring injury on The Valencia High graduate and has yet to return to practice since the injury and did not participate in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kyle Boller — Oakland Raiders, quarterback

The Raiders have made it clear that their starting quarterback is Jason Campbell, but Boller is still competing for the backup spot in his second season with the team. The Hart High graduate may have helped his case on in Thursday night’s preseason game, going 7-of-9 with 42 yards in a 24-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Boller came in at the start of the second quarter is currently the team’s No. 2 ahead of Trent Edwards.

Jonathan Fanene — Cincinnati Bengals, defensive lineman

The seventh-year professional agreed to a one-year deal with the Bengals on Tuesday according to the team’s website. A report by Yahoo! Sports said the former College of the Canyons player wasn’t able to reach a longterm contract because the team wants indication that he can stay healthy.

Last year, Fanene played in just two games due to a hamstring injury. His best season came in 2009 with he played all 16 games, started 10 and recorded a career-high six sacks.

Domata Peko — Cincinnati Bengals, defensive lineman

Peko, another College of the Canyons product, saw his first action in the Bengals’ preseason opener on Friday against the Detroit Lions. Peko started and assisted in a tackle in Cincinnati’s 34-3 loss. He is listed as the team’s starting nose tackle on the depth chart, which comes as little surprise since he’s started every game he’s played in since 2007.

Troy Nolan — Houston Texans, safety

The third year pro out of College of the Canyons appears to be in good shape with the Houston Texans.
Nolan tied for a team-high in interceptions with three last season, coming off a rookie season in 2009 that saw him spend the entire year on injured reserve.

An article in Wednesday’s Houston Chronicle praised Nolan’s play in practice.
He’ll put his skills to test on Monday when the Texans open up the preseason with the New York Jets.

Justin Tryon — Indianapolis Colts, cornerback
The College of the Canyons product is pushing for a starting job with the Colts
Tryon is listed on the depth chart second behind third-year pro Jerraud Powers.

Nonetheless, he took a step forward last year by starting six games for Indianapolis last season.

The Colts begin preseason play today at the St. Louis Rams.


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