Eleven Jayhawks Heading To NFL Training Camps

LAWRENCE, Kan. – National Football League training camps are set to open in the coming days, with 11 former Kansas football players heading off to their respective teams.

Former KU linebacker Mike Rivera has been doing his offseason training in Lawrence in preparation for the 2013 NFL season. Rivera, who plays for the New England Patriots, said working out in the “Kansas heat” was beneficial in preparing his body for the grind of an NFL training camp.

“It is great to come back to KU and train during the offseason,” said Rivera. “The conditions are great with it being close to 100 degrees most days. You can really put your body through some grueling training. I like coming back and working out with the guys in the weight room. Every time I’m here, it still feels like home.”

Cornerback Aqib Talib and offensive lineman Anthony Collins are the veterans of the Jayhawks in the NFL, as the pair of KU players are entering their sixth NFL season. Talib is entering his first full season with the New England Patriots after being traded to the club in November of 2012 from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Talib enters the 2013 campaign with 201 tackles, 19 interceptions and 56 pass break ups in his career. Collins has spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals, playing in 44 games, including 18 starts, as an offensive tackle.

Rivera teams up with Talib in New England, while rookie offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson will join Collins in Cincinnati in 2013. Rivera has bounced around a bit during his three seasons of professional football, suiting up for five different clubs. He spent the majority of the 2012 season with the Patriots, collecting six tackles in 10 games, including one start. Hawkinson, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bengals, is slated to provide depth at all positions along the offensive line.

A pair of Jayhawks will be teaming up again this season in Denver as cornerback Chris Harris and linebacker Steven Johnson will be suiting up for the Broncos. Harris, one of the top defensive players for the Broncos in 2012, has 133 tackles and four interceptions to his credit in just two NFL seasons. Harris recorded the longest interception return for a touchdown in Broncos history last season with his 98-yard interception return versus the Baltimore Ravens in helping lead Denver to a 34-17 win over the Super Bowl champions. Johnson played primarily on special teams in his rookie season, collecting 10 tackles and one forced fumble in 11 games in 2012.

The San Diego Chargers also have two former KU standouts on their roster as safety Darrell Stuckey is entering his fourth season with the organization, while cornerback Greg Brown will be attending his first NFL training camp after playing his final season as a Jayhawk in 2012. Stuckey, who served as the Chargers special teams captain in 2012, collected 12 tackles on the season. He led the NFL with six punts downed inside the 20, while also forcing a team-high two fumbles. Brown is a rookie free agent with the club after recording 75 tackles, two interceptions and 12 pass breakups in his senior season at KU.

A pair of Kansas City Chiefs rookies will spend their first NFL training camp just up the road from Lawrence as safety Bradley McDougald and defensive lineman/linebacker turned fullback Toben Opurum didn’t have to travel far to start their professional careers. McDougald finished his senior season at KU ranked second on the team in tackles with 92, while leading the Jayhawks in interceptions with three. Opurum spent the last three seasons at KU on the defensive side of the ball after a stellar freshman campaign as a running back. In 2009, Opurum was the first freshman to lead Kansas in rushing in a season since Clark Green in 2002 as he carried the ball 133 times for a team-best 554 yards and nine touchdowns. He is returning to his roots with the Chiefs as he is slated to play fullback in the NFL.

Former Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe will be camping with his third different team in four seasons as he heads to training camp with the Washington Redskins for the second-straight season. Briscoe, who was drafted by the Bengals in 2010, has also spent time with the Buccaneers. He has played in 25 games in his three-year career, recording 43 catches for 502 yards and seven touchdowns.

McDougald and Opurum are the first Jayhawks to head to camp as the Chiefs’ rookies report on Monday, July 22. The remaining 10 players report to their camps on either Wednesday, July 24 (Redskins, Chargers, Bengals, Broncos), or Thursday, July 25 (Patriots).

The 2013 NFL preseason gets underway with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys facing off in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, Aug. 4. The 2013 NFL regular season opens with the Ravens traveling to the Broncos on Thursday, Sept. 5. KU kicks off its 2013 season with a game at Memorial Stadium versus South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m.

2013 Jayhawks in NFL Training Camps
Player Position Team Report Date/Location
Dezmon Briscoe WR Washington Redskins July 24/Richmond, Va.
Greg Brown CB San Diego Chargers July 24/San Diego, Calif.
Anthony Collins OL Cincinnati Bengals July 24/Cincinnati, Ohio
Chris Harris CB Denver Broncos Juiy 24/Englewood, Colo.
Tanner Hawkinson OL Cincinnati Bengals July 24/Cincinnati, Ohio
Steven Johnson LB Denver Broncos Juiy 24/Englewood, Colo.
Bradley McDougald S Kansas City Chiefs July 22/St. Joseph, Mo.
Mike Rivera LB New England Patriots July25/Foxboro, Mass.
Toben Opurum FB Kansas City Chiefs July 22/St. Joseph, Mo.
Darrell Stuckey S San Diego Chargers July 24/San Diego, Calif.
Aqib Talib CB New England Patriots July25/Foxboro, Mass.

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