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Illini in the NFL: Week 10 Update

A former Illini kicker made his debut with his new team.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It was an exciting week for Illini alums in the NFL. Two former practice squad players just weeks ago were on active rosters this week and made impacts for their respective teams.

Baltimore Ravens

Jihad Ward, defensive end: The Ravens faced a familiar foe in the New England Patriots. Ward was inactive for the Sunday Night Football clash.

Buffalo Bills

Del’Shawn Phillips, linebacker: After missing much of practice last week with a lingering injury, Phillips did not play against the Arizona Cardinals and was not on the active roster.

Dallas Cowboys:

Malik Turner, wide receiver/special teams: The Cowboys were on bye this week.

Houston Texans:

Whitney Mercilus, outside linebacker: Houston went north to play the Cleveland Browns. Mercilus, who missed last week because of COVID-19 contact tracing, was back in the starting lineup. He had 4 tackles and a QB hit.

Corey Liuget, defensive line: Liuget made his Texans debut last weekend, appearing in 13 defensive snaps. Once again, Liuget was on the active roster. He made an impact with 1 sack, seen here:

Indianapolis Colts:

Tavon Wilson, safety/special teams: The Colts played on Thursday night at the Tennessee Titans. Indy earned the big win, and Wilson had 1 tackle in 5 defensive snaps and appeared in 13 special teams snaps.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Jaguars welcomed an Illini alum into their ranks. A cross conference matchup took place as Jacksonville played at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. It was a cold, windy day at Lambeau Field.

Dawuane Smoot, defensive end: Smoot did not appear on the stat sheet in Jacksonville’s close loss to Green Bay.

Chase McLaughlin, kicker: The Jags signed McLaughlin to their active roster from the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad last Tuesday. McLaughlin was excellent, hitting field goals from 52 and 31 yards in strong winds. He made both of his extra point attempts.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Nick Allegretti, guard: Allegretti and the Chiefs had a bye week. Next up: A Sunday Night Football revenge game at the Las Vegas Raiders. Allegretti has been dominant upfront, so hopefully this bye week does not mean he loses his starting job as perhaps some of his injured teammates return to action.

Miami Dolphins:

The Dolphins are playing smart, effective football — and they were without a few key pieces on Sunday in a win against the LA Chargers.

Ted Karras, center: Karras continues to start at center. He had an off day, as he was credited with two fumbles, one of those was a turnover.

Clayton Fejedelem, safety/special teams: Fej had 1 assisted tackle in Miami’s win.

Minnesota Vikings:

Hardy Nickerson, linebacker/special teams: On goes the NFC North gauntlet. After winning at Green Bay last week, Nickerson and the Vikings beat the Detroit Lions. Nickerson was back in Illinois at the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, where he did not record any stats.

New Orleans Saints:

Justin Hardee, cornerback/special teams: Dealing with a groin injury, Justin Hardee was added to New Orleans’ IR list along with teammate Sheldon Rankins two weeks ago leading up to the Saints’ blowout win against the Tampa Bay Bucs. It’s unclear when Hardee will be back.

*Just a reminder, Detroit Lions wide receiver Geronimo Allison and New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19.