IU in the NFL roundup: Westbrook makes Titans’ practice squad

On Saturday, Nick Westbrook was among the Tennessee Titans’ cuts as they reduced the roster to 53 men.

On Sunday, the Indiana product was back with the team, just in a slightly different capacity.

Westbrook, the 6-foot-2, 211-pound receiver, was one of 13 players added to the Titans’ practice squad. He’s the lone receiver in the group.

Like more than a few prospects nowadays, Westbrook had an unconventional route to the NFL. After an appearance at the East-West Shrine Bowl, his pre-draft training in Seattle was cut short because of the pandemic. IU’s pro day was also canceled.

He headed home to Florida, where Westbrook described doing “Rocky workouts” in his backyard. Part of his routine was lifting sandbags his father uses for lighting equipment as a photographer.

“So you just have to be creative with what you do to stay in shape,” Westbrook said back in March. “But it’s kind of fun, at the same time, to say I’m going through this, and hopefully if everything works out, I may get into the league and look back at my story and my journey and how I was able to do that.”

Westbrook went undrafted in April but latched on with the Titans as a free agent. Now he’s made the league, in a way, though there’s another step to be made before he can suit up for games.

Here is a roundup of other Hoosiers that have made NFL rosters.

Dan Feeney, Los Angeles Chargers

The former All-American guard is now heading into his fourth season with the Chargers.

Feeney has been an NFL starter since the final nine games of 2017, which made him a part of an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (18) that year. He went on to be named All-Rookie by the Professional Football Writers of America.

This year, he will be a part of a group that includes former Iowa and Green Bay Packer tackle Bryan Bulaga.

IU will have a few others representatives along NFL offensive lines in 2020. The veteran of the group is Rodger Saffold, now a teammate of Westbrook’s in Tennessee, who is heading into his 11th NFL season.

Jason Spriggs, after spending the 2019 season on the Packers’ injured reserve, is slated to be a backup tackle for the Bears. This will be his fourth year in the league.

Brandon Knight (Dallas) and Wes Martin (Washington) are also on NFL rosters. Simon Stepaniak, a sixth-round pick of the Packers in April, will start the year on Green Bay’s non-football injury list.

Tevin Coleman, San Fransisco 49ers

Coleman toughed out an injury to appear in the Super Bowl in 2019, as former running backs coach Deland McCullough was on the other sideline with the champion Chiefs.

Coleman finished the year with 544 yards and six touchdowns, while also hauling in 21 passes for 180 yards and a score. Having recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, Coleman is slated to split carries with Purdue alum Raheem Mostert for the 49ers.

Another IU alum who figures to get significant touches is Jordan Howard in Miami. Following back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Bears, including a Pro Bowl trip as a rookie in 2016, Howard saw his production dip the next two years. In 2019, the 6-foot, 224-pound bruiser had 525 yards in 10 games with Philadelphia.

Howard is looking for a fresh start in Miami, where he could be splitting carries with one of Coleman’s former teammates, Matt Breida, who comes over from the 49ers.

Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers

The former Hoosier tight end may be ready for a more prominent role in Carolina, because the organization parted ways with Greg Olsen (now in Seattle) in the offseason.

The 2018 fourth-round pick started six games as a rookie, hauling in 36 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns. His starts were halved in 2019, and Thomas recorded 16 catches for 136 yards and just one score.

Thomas will have a chance to grow a chemistry with a new quarterback, as well. Carolina’s new signal caller is Teddy Bridgewater, who comes over from New Orleans. Cam Newton is now in New England.

Nate Sudfeld, Philadelphia Eagles

After missing last season with a broken wrist, Sudfeld is back as the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz.

The former Hoosier will be in a quarterback room, however, with a newly minted second-round draft pick in former Alabama and Oklahoma signal caller Jalen Hurts.

Wentz has dealt with his share of injuries in his young career, so it will be interesting to see whether it will be Sudfeld or Hurts who takes the field if the Eagles’ star quarterback is ever sidelined.

Sudfeld has appeared in three games for Philly, throwing for 156 yards and a touchdown. He’s yet to throw a pick.

3 comments

  1. BYU vs. Navy was a laugher. Fun to watch for quarter and a half. Navy way to small and equal amount slow to man up with that bunch. But unlike the B1G both programs realize the games can be played. Same for EKU and Marshall.

  2. While watching my first college football game this weekend I literally felt embarrassed for the Big Ten Conference. As I watched the young men on Arkansas State and Memphis play, having fun and bonding with their teammates, I could not help but think, “if these schools, that obviously have fewer resources than Big Ten teams, can play FB games, why couldn’t the Big Ten find a way to play?” Do the Big Ten’s Presidents care more about the health of their student athletes than the Presidents of universities in other conferences? I doubt that! Do the Big Ten Presidents have access to better scientific data than these other schools’ Presidents? No way! So what’s the difference? Why are Big Ten teams not playing while these other, lower level conferences are going forward? IMO, the Big Ten Presidents’ decision to cancel fall sports was pathetic, and either cowardly or cynical, and it has done significant damage to the Big Ten’s brand and reputation. And that’s not even considering the damage it has done to thousands of student athletes, university employees and people whose lives are tied to a wide variety of Big Ten sports.

  3. Some “lower level” schools are taking Covid very seriously.

    And, unless I’m mistaken, I believe ND and UNC have gone to full online learning.

    While some schools are acting as if all is normal with football going forward, nothing seems normal with many campus situations. Will football players be expelled and lose scholarships if they break any protocols (similar to what has occurred with Northeastern students sneaking away to a hotel room)?

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