Former Eagles: professional footballers
We’ve not taken a look at former EMU athletes currently playing the the NFL this fall, but with the pro season 1/4 of the way over, and the college season nearly halfway over, it’s probably about time to do that. ESPN lists four former EMU athletes in the NFL.
The biggest name, far and away, is Charlie Batch. Batch, in his thirteenth NFL season (he was at EMU the last time the Eagles had a winning season), started the season as the third-string quarterback for the Steelers. When Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the start of the season, and then Dennis Dixon went down with an injury in week 2, Batch took over. Since then, Batch has completed 29 of 49 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. He’s also carried the ball 7 times for 30 yards during that time. Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain had a nice profile on Batch last week. Batch is surely headed back to his role as a backup with the return of Ben Roethlisberger for the Steelers’ week 6 matchup with Cleveland (the Steelers have their bye this week), but he may have moved up from third-string to the top backup to Big Ben.
Wide receiver Kevin Walter is a solid starter for the 3-1 Houston Texans. So far this year, he’s pulled in 20 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns. This Sunday, he takes on the team that drafted him, the New York Giants, and with fellow Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson listed as “questionable” on the injury report due to an injured ankle, Matt Schaub is likely to toss plenty of passes Walter’s way.
With a rash of injuries in the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, T.J. Lang played in 16 of 17 games as an NFL rookie last year, including three starts. He hasn’t been on the active roster for a game yet this year, but with Mark Tauscher’s shoulder sprain expected to keep him off the field for a “significant” period of time, expectations are that Brian Bulaga will become the starting right tackle and Lang will be on the active roster as a backup.
In his third season in the NFL, Jason Jones is a starting defensive tackle for the 2-2 Tennessee Titans. After struggling with injuries last year, he seems to be doing well this fall, and he had a good effort in the Titans’ 26-20 loss to Denver last weekend, with four solo tackles. He also had a forced fumble with 1:30 left in the game, and if the Titans had been able to recover it they would have had a chance to tie (with a field goal) or win (with a touchdown). Instead Denver recover their fumble, kicked a field goal to go up 6, and gave the ball back to Tennessee with just 23 seconds left, which proved too little time to score the needed touchdown.
So there you have it. There are only four former EMU Eagles in the NFL right now, but between them, they’ve started 10 games and their teams are 11-5. EMU also has at least two alumni playing in the Canadian Football League: Éric Deslauriers is in his fourth year as slotback/wide receiver for the defending champion Montreal Allouettes, and Johnny Sears, who did not make the final cut for the Cincinnati Bengals this fall, has just been signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.