Sept. 13, 2004
Approximately 20 former Washington State players will enter the 2004 season on NFL rosters, highlighted by veterans Drew Bledsoe, Mark Fields, and Jason Hanson, and up-and-coming league standouts Marcus Trufant, Lamont Thompson, and Rien Long.
Here is a look at Cougars looking to make an impact in the NFL this season...
Drew Bledsoe, Quarterback, Buffalo --- Cougar legend Bledsoe will attempt to regain his 2002 form when he threw for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns after a disappointing 2003. 2003 Stats: 2,860 yards, 11 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions.
Isaac Brown, Linebacker, Seattle --- Making the switch to linebacker after playing defensive end for the Cougars, where he racked up 22.5 career sacks. 2003 Stats: Attempting to make Seahawk roster as undrafted rookie.
Erik Coleman, Safety, New York Jets --- Versatile safety is pushing veteran Reggie Tongue for starting spot in New York's defensive backfield. Some are saying the Spokane product could be the steal of the 2004 NFL Draft. 2003 Stats: Fifth round draft pick of the Jets.
Devard Darling, Wide Receiver, Baltimore --- Counted on to contribute to receiving corps that includes Kevin Johnson and Travis Taylor. 2003 Stats: Third round selection of the Ravens.
James Darling, Linebacker, Arizona --- The eighth-year veteran continues to quietly carve out his niche in the league. He is surrounded by promising young linebackers Karlos Dansby of Auburn, Levar Fisher of North Carolina State, and Gerald Hayes of Pittsburgh. 2003 Stats: 21 tackles, 2 sacks.
Jason David, Cornerback, Indianapolis --- The diminutive David was a hit during the Colts' camp. Is expected to contribute in nickel and dime situations. 2003 Stats: Fourth round draft pick by the Colts.
Chad Eaton, Defensive Tackle, Dallas --- Vocal defender will be the opening day starter at tackle for Bill Parcell's Cowboys. 2003 Stats: Missed the season recovering from knee surgery.
Mark Fields, Linebacker, Carolina --- The leader of the Palouse Posse hopes to return to Pro Bowl form after missing last season with Hodgkin's Disease. Has had six seasons over 100 tackles or more during career. 2003 Stats: Served as captain for Panthers at the Super Bowl last season.
Steve Gleason, Safety, New Orleans Saints --- Former Cougar linebacker continues to shine at the professional level as a safety and special teams performer. 2003 Stats: 8 tackles.
Jason Hanson, Kicker, Detroit --- A potential Hall of Fame candidate, Hanson is still one of the most productive kickers in the league and the Lions all-time leading scorer. 2003 Stats: 22 of 23 on field goals, 26 of 27 on point-after attempts, 92 points.
Rian Lindell, Kicker, Buffalo --- Joins Bledsoe in Buffalo to give the Bills a Cougar Connection. Lindell continues to be an extremely consistent kicker at the professional level. 2003 Stats: 17 of 24 on field goals, 24 of 24 on point-after attempts, 75 points.
Rien Long, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee --- The 2002 Outland Trophy winner is looking for a breakout year in Tennessee, where he could join the starting rotation. 2003 Stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack.
Robbie Tobeck, Center, Seattle --- The veteran center has started 48 consecutive games and is one of the keys to what is expected to be one the league's top offenses in 2004. 2003 Stats: One of four Seahawks linemen to start all 16 games.
Rob Meier, Defensive Tackle, Jacksonville --- The big Canadian is a versatile linemen for the Jaguars, providing depth at end and tackle. 2003 Stats: 30 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.
Raonall Smith, Linebacker, Minnesota --- Looking to find a role with Minnesota after and injury-plagued first two seasons in the league. 2003 Stats: 2 tackles.
Lamont Thompson, Safety, Tennessee --- Seems to have found a home in Tennessee after struggling to get on the field at Cincinnati. 2003 Stats: 24 tackles.
Marcus Trufant, Cornerback, Seattle --- Is part of a blossoming secondary that also includes Bobby Taylor, Ken Hamlin, and Ken Lucas. Trufant and Lucas are arguably the best young corner tandem in the NFL. 2003 Stats: 78 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery.
Brian Walker, Safety, Detroit --- Veteran will begin the season on the injured reserve.
Cory Withrow, Center, Minnesota --- The Spokane native is a valuable backup at center, where he has played 52 games in his career with one start. 2003 Starts: Saw time in 8 games.
Former Cougar, Team, Position, Years
Drew Bledsoe, Buffalo Bills, Quarterback, 12
Isaac Brown, Seattle Seahawks, Linebacker, Rookie
Erik Coleman, New York Jets, Safety, Rookie
Devard Darling, Baltimore Ravens, Wide Receiver, Rookie
James Darling, Arizona Cardinals, Linebacker, 8
Jason David, Indianapolis Colts, Cornerback, Rookie
Chad Eaton, Dallas Cowboys, Defensive Tackle, 9
Mark Fields, Carolina Panthers, Linebacker, 10
Steve Gleason, New Orleans Saints, Safety, 4
Jason Hanson, Detroit Lions, Kicker, 13
Rian Lindell, Buffalo Bills, Kicker, 5
Rien Long, Tennessee Titans, Defensive Tackle, 1
Robbie Tobeck, Seattle Seahawks, Center, 11
Rob Meier, Jacksonville Jaguars, Defensive Tackle, 5
Raonall Smith, Minnesota Vikings, Linebacker, 2
Lamont Thompson, Tennessee Titans, Safety, 3
Marcus Trufant, Seattle Seahawks, Cornerback, 1
Brian Walker, Detroit Lions, Safety, 9
Cory Withrow, Minnesota Vikings, Center, 4