A pair of former Fresno State stars finished their first years in the NFL when the regular season wrapped up Sunday.
And both defensive tackle Tyeler Davison of the New Orleans Saints and offensive guard Cody Wichmann of the St. Louis Rams made impacts with their respective teams.
Davison started five games and finished with 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He played in every game for the Saints, who finished 7-9 and third in the NFC South.
Davison, drafted in the fifth round, recorded his first sack against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 4 and a half-sack against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15.
Wichmann, drafted in the sixth round, made his first start against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11 and then started the next six games. He helped blocked for rookie sensation Todd Gurley, who finished with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Wichmann in the preseason had a calf injury and didn’t play until the third exhibition.
“I remember being nervous before the game. And I’m usually never nervous. But after the first play, all those jitters go out the window,” he said then.
Another former Fresno State star will continue his rookie season in the playoffs. Safety Derron Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Wild-Card game Saturday. Smith was drafted in the sixth round and played in all 16 games, recording four tackles to help the Bengals tie a franchise record with 12 wins during the regular season.
Together again, sort of – Former Fresno State stars Davante Adams of the Packers and Marcel Jensen of the Redskins will say hello to each other when Green Bay visits Washington in an NFC Wild-Card game Sunday.
Adams and Jensen last played on the same field at the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl.
It’s unknown if Jensen will be active since he’s been with the Redskins just since Dec. 22, but he did play in Sunday’s victory at Dallas and was used primarily as a blocker. It was his second career game after appearing in one game for Jacksonville as a rookie last year.
Playoffs focus – Former Hoover High star Eric Kendricks and the Minnesota Vikings will look to slow down the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC Wild-Card game Sunday.
Kendricks helped the Vikings claim their first NFC North title since 2009 with a 20-13 victory over the Packers on Sunday. The middle linebacker led Minnesota this season with 92 tackles – the first rookie to lead the Vikings in tackles since Rip Hawkins in 1961, according to the team. Tight end Anthony McCoy (Bullard) is on the Seahawks’ roster.
Former Edison High star Robert Golden and the Pittsburgh Steelers match up against the Bengals. This is the second time Golden, a safety, will be in the playoffs with the Steelers.
Also, the Kansas City Chiefs and rookie cornerback Steven Nelson (College of the Sequoias) visit the Houston Texans on Saturday.
Carr’s year – Former Fresno State star Derek Carr wrapped up his second season with the Oakland Raiders with 3,987 passing yards – third most in franchise history. He has the second most touchdown passes (53) by any NFL player through his first two seasons, trailing only Dan Marino (68). Carr passed Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson (52).
Carr finished 2015 with 32 touchdown passes, a career high and the second most in Raiders franchise history behind Clovis native Daryle Lamonica, who notched 34 touchdowns in 1969.
Also, Carr and Khalil Mack both started 16 games in back-to-back seasons to begin their careers, becoming the fifth and sixth Raiders to start 32 games through their first two years.
Staying on – Two former Fresno State stars earned reserve-future deals: safety Phillip Thomas with the Bills and receiver Isaiah Burse with the Chargers.