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NFL: Up and comers

SCV represented by mix of young players and veterans in pro football

Posted: December 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

New England Patriots running back and Valencia High graduate Shane Vereen (34) rushes against the New York Jets on Nov. 22 in East Rutherford, N.J.

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Some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s newest professional football stars are showing signs of long-term promise in the NFL.

Second-year New England Patriots running back and Valencia graduate Shane Vereen is getting on the field more and more.

Third-year New York Giants defensive end and former College of the Canyons player Jason Pierre-Paul is backing up his stellar 2011 season.

This valley has produced NFL talent by the handful and a large number of locals are playing significant roles on teams today.

This is how their 2012 season is going as we hit the home stretch of the NFL regular season.

Shane Vereen — New England Patriots, running back

In his second year as a pro, Vereen is getting significantly more play time.

Inluding Monday night’s statistics against the Houston Texans, the 23-year-old Valencia High graduate has 54 carries for 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground in addition to seven catches for 145 yards.

His biggest highlight came on a prime time, Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Jets when Vereen caught a short pass from Tom Brady and scampered 83 yards for his first career touchdown reception.

He’s already seen action in eight games this season after playing in just five all of last season.

Jason Pierre-Paul — New York Giants, defensive lineman

After a breakout second year in the NFL last season, Pierre-Paul has followed it up with another impressive campaign.

Though his numbers aren’t quite at the level in 2011, the ex-COC player has 55 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks, five pass breakups and an interception he returned for his first career touchdown on Oct. 28 against the Dallas Cowboys.

After collecting a Super Bowl ring last year, the 2011 first-team All-Pro defensive lineman looks to be a big factor the weeks to come for the NFC East Division-leading Giants.

Matt Moore — Miami Dolphins, quarterback

Despite starting 12 games last season and having a career year, Moore was beat out by rookie Ryan Tannehill for the starting quarterback job in preseason training camp.

The Hart High graduate stepped in for an injured Tannehill on Oct. 28 against the New York Jets and performed well, leading the team to a 30-9 win.

Moore completed 11-of-19 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in the game.

A brief showing at the tail end of a loss to the Tennessee Titans two weeks later is the only other action Moore has seen this year.

The 28-year-old and sixth-year pro passed for career-highs in yards (2,497) and touchdowns (16) last season.

He’s in the final year of his two-year contract with the Dolphins.

Delano Howell — Indianapolis Colts, safety

On Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Howell saw game action for just the second time this season, though the Hart High graduate didn’t officially record any statistics in the game.

The former Stanford University standout was signed by the Colts on Nov. 28 from the Bills’ practice squad.

Howell’s only other action this season came in a Buffalo uniform in a Sept. 23 game against the Cleveland Browns, when he recorded his only tackle of the year.

After being signed as an undrafted free agent in April, Howell earned his way onto Buffalo’s 53-man roster in training camp, though he was active for just the one game for the Bills.

He had spent the last three weeks on Buffalo’s eight-man practice squad before Indianapolis picked him up.

Justin Tryon — New York Giants, cornerback

Though he has spent the season as a backup for Prince Amukamara, Tryon has played in all 13 of the Giants’ games this year.

The former COC player has 15 tackles this season, which is his fifth in the NFL with his third different team.

He began his career with the Washington Redskins, played a season and a half with the Indianapolis Colts and was signed by the Giants in October of last year. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a broken arm which ended his season.

Isaac Sopoaga — San Francisco 49ers, defensive lineman

Sopoaga has played fewer snaps this season than in years past for the 49ers due to the team’s defensive schemes.

The ninth-year veteran and former COC Cougar has still remained solid as a nose tackle and a run-stopper, collecting 20 tackles in 12 games this season, eight of which were starts.

He’s played all nine of his professional seasons in San Francisco.

Domata Peko — Cincinnati Bengals, defensive lineman

The seventh-year pro continues a strong career as a starter for Cincinnati’s interior defensive line.

Peko, a former COC lineman, is on pace for one of his best years in the NFL with 42 total tackles, two sacks and two pass breakups in 13 starts this season as a nose tackle.

His career highs are 67 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks.

Troy Nolan — free agent, safety

A significant reduction in playing time this season eventually led to Nolan’s release from the Texans on Nov. 17.

The former COC player had nine tackles in just seven games this season, three of which were played with the Dolphins to start the season.

Nolan played his first two NFL seasons entirely with Houston before the team cut him just before the start of the 2012 regular season on Sept. 1.

That same day, Miami claimed him off waivers, only to release him after three games on Sept. 25.

Nolan was then resigned by the Texans on Oct. 2 to fill in for injured safety Quintin Demps.

Again, he seldom got into the game for the next six weeks, eventually leading to his release.

Jonathan Fanene — free agent, defensive lineman

The former COC player was released by the Patriots on Aug. 21 prior to the start of the season. At that time,
ESPNBoston.com reported that the seven-year NFL veteran was dealing with a knee injury.

Fanene was signed by New England in March after spending the previous seven years of his pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he recorded 66 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and an interception.

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