Kenny Wiggins didn’t know if he would ever see playing time in the NFL.
The former Fresno State standout arrived in the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens.
But that was it. It was nothing but practice squad time for the 6-foot-6 offensive lineman during stints with Baltimore, San Francisco and San Diego.
His practice squad time eventually used up, Wiggins was waived by the Chargers in early 2014. Then came a wave of injuries and San Diego re-signed him, even putting him on the active roster for their season finale against Kansas City.
Kind of felt like it was never going to happen … just finally glad that it did.
ex-Fresno State offensive line standout Kenny Wiggins on his four-year wait to see action in the NFL
More opportunities came in 2015, even when he was let go at the end of camp. Ten days later, Wiggins was re-signed again. He finished the season having played in 15 games, starting eight.
“About time,” Wiggins said. “Last year was my fifth year. Kind of felt like it was never going to happen, and I’m just finally glad that it did.”
The Elk Grove native’s first career start came Oct. 4 against Cleveland. Throughout the year, he started at left and right guard and right tackle, blocking for quarterback Philip Rivers.
“(Rivers is) amazing,” Wiggins said. “His preparation is second to none. He’s amazing and knows everything before it’s going to happen. It makes my job a lot easier playing for a quarterback like that.”
Wiggins, 27, said that this season there’s a chance he even could see time at center in emergencies but whatever the role he’s “ready to compete and win a spot.” Training camp opens July 29 at Chargers Park in San Diego.
“They had me playing at guard and center at organized team activities,” Wiggins said. “(Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson) saw I can play tackle and guard in games last year. He said, ‘I want to see if you can play center, too.’ At the end of spring he said he had no problem putting me there, that he has faith in me. More you can do, more valuable you are.”
Here is a team-by-team at other NFL players with central San Joaquin Valley ties:
▪ Arizona: Outside linebacker Tristan Okpalaugo (Fresno State) signed in February after spending two seasons with Toronto of the Canadian Football League.
▪ Atlanta: Tackle Bryce Harris (Tulare High/Fresno State) is entering his fifth year in the league and second with the Falcons. He re-signed in March after playing in one game last season.
▪ Baltimore: Outside linebacker Chris Carter (Fresno State) spent most of last season with Cincinnati before signing with the Ravens on Dec. 21. This will be his sixth NFL season.
▪ Carolina: Linebacker Ben Jacobs (Fresno State) is back for his third season with the team. Playing mostly on special teams last year, he had 15 tackles.
▪ Chicago: Wide receiver Marquess Wilson (Tulare) is expected to open on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after he re-broke his left foot at minicamp. He originally was hurt during a practice in December.
▪ Cincinnati: Safety Derron Smith (Fresno State) mostly played on special teams as a rookie last season.
▪ Cleveland: Wide receiver/kick returner Marlon Moore (Fresno State) appeared in 14 games with two starts last season, his sixth as a pro. He registered seven catches for 81 yards with one touchdown.
▪ Denver: Tight end Virgil Green (Tulare) started five games last season and finished with 12 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown for a Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50. He’s played 72 regular-season games (22 starts) and 10 in the playoffs (three starts) during his first five NFL seasons, all with the Broncos.
▪ Detroit: Defensive back Charles Washington (Fresno State) was signed in April as an undrafted free agent.
▪ Green Bay: Wide receiver Davante Adams (Fresno State will look to rebound after a disappointing NFL sophomore campaign in which he totaled 50 catches for 483 yards and one touchdown. The Packers have seven receivers heading into camp, including a recovered Jordy Nelson (knee).
▪ Kansas City: Quarterback Tyler Bray (Kingsburg) will be competing against Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan for the backup job behind Alex Smith. Coach Andy Reid gave Bray the edge going into camp because he has the most tenure among the backups, but he missed all of last season with a torn ACL suffered playing basketball. … Cornerback Steven Nelson (College of the Sequoias) played in 12 games as a rookie last season. … Cornerback Shannon Edwards (Fresno State) signed as an undrafted free agent.
▪ Los Angeles: Safety T.J. McDonald (Edison) returns for his fourth season and has played in and started 26 games. … Cody Wichmann (Fresno State) returns for his second season after starting seven games in 2015.
▪ Minnesota: Linebacker Eric Kendricks (Hoover) looks to build on a rookie season in which he accumulated 92 tackles with four sacks. He started 11 of his 14 games.
▪ New Orleans: Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (Fresno State) played in 16 games as a rookie with five starts. He finished with 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
▪ New England: Tight end Bear Pascoe (Granite Hills/Fresno State) signed with the team on Wednesday. Last season, he spent time with the Detroit Lions for the final weeks of the season. He has played in 85 regular-season games with 34 starts and 40 receptions for 336 yards and two touchdowns.
▪ New York Jets: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (College of the Sequoias) will miss the opener for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. Last season, he finished with 35 tackles in 11 games. Paired with Muhammad Wilkerson, he will give the Jets a formidable pass rush.
▪ Oakland: Quarterback Derek Carr (Fresno State) will be in his third season after making another big leap a year ago, passing for 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. … Rookie linebacker Kyrie Wilson (Fresno State) comes in after participating at minicamp and organized team activities.
▪ Philadelphia: Running back Ryan Mathews (Fresno State) will be in his second season with the Eagles. His first in Philadelphia, and sixth overall in the NFL, saw Mathews finish fourth in the league in yards per carry (5.08). He was placed on non-football injury list with an injured ankle when he reported to training camp. … Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (Hoover) signed a four-year extension in 2015 and finished the season with 86 tackles and three sacks. He also had a forced fumble.
▪ Pittsburgh: Safety Robert Golden (Edison) looks to grab a starting spot. He signed his one-year restricted free agent tender April 29. Last season, he started three games in place of Will Allen. His first career start, in his fourth year in the league, came Oct. 18 against Arizona.
▪ San Diego: Receiver/kick returner Isaiah Burse (Fresno State) was added to the practice squad in November. He played in 12 games with Denver in 2014 after making the roster as an undrafted free agent.
▪ Tennessee: Cornerback Curtis Riley (Fresno State) sat out last year because of an ankle injury suffered in training camp. In his second season, he will compete as a reserve defensive back and special-teams contributor.
▪ Washington: Tight end Marcel Jensen (Fresno State) was signed to the active roster off Buffalo’s practice squad in December and appeared in one game. Linebacker Ejiro Ederaine (Fresno State) signed an undrafted free agent contract after the NFL draft.
NFL Training Camp Dates
Rookie and veteran reporting dates:
- BALTIMORE RAVENS: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, Md. (rookies: July 22, veterans: July 27)
- BUFFALO BILLS: St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, N.Y. (July 28, July 29)
- CINCINNATI BENGALS: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati (July 26; July 28)
- CLEVELAND BROWNS: Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (July 25, July 28)
- DENVER BRONCOS: Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center, Englewood, Colo. (July 24; July 27)
- HOUSTON TEXANS: Methodist Training Center, Houston (July 25, July 30)
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Anderson (Ind.) University (both July 26)
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Practice Fields at EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla. (July 25, July 27)
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Missouri Western State, St. Joseph, Mo. (July 26, July 29)
- MIAMI DOLPHINS: Baptist Health Training Facility, Davie, Fla. (both July 28)
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. (July 24, July 27)
- NEW YORK JETS: Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Florham Park, N.J. (both July 27)
- OAKLAND RAIDERS: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, Calif. (July 24; July 28)
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. (July 27, July 28)
- SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Chargers Park, San Diego (both July 29)
- TENNESSEE TITANS: St. Thomas Sports Park, Nashville, Tenn. (both July 29)
- ARIZONA CARDINALS: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. (July 25, July 28)
- ATLANTA FALCONS: Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, Ga. (both July 27)
- CAROLINA PANTHERS: Wofford College, Spartanburg, S.C. (both July 27)
- CHICAGO BEARS: Olivet Nazarene, Bourbonnais, Ill. (both July 27)
- DALLAS COWBOYS: River Ridge Playing Fields, Oxnard, Calif. (both July 29)
- DETROIT LIONS: Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, Mich. (July 23, July 28)
- GREEN BAY PACKERS: St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wis. (both July 25)
- LOS ANGELES RAMS: UC Irvine, Irvine, Calif. (July 27, July 29)
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minn. (both July 28)
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: The Greenbrier, White Sulpher Springs, W.Va. (July 20, July 27)
- NEW YORK GIANTS: Quest Diagnostics Training Center, East Rutherford, N.J. (both July 28)
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia (July 24, July 27)
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: SAP Performance Facility, Santa Clara, Calif. (both July 30)
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, Wash. (both July 29)
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Fla. (July 25, July 27)
- WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Bon Secours Training Center, Richmond, Va. (both July 27)