Next level Rams: Defensive standouts making an impact

Colin Barnard

Through twelve weeks of the season, former Colorado State football players are making an impact in the National Football League. Including players on practice squads and injured reserve, CSU has eight former players in the league. Here’s a look at some performances thus far.

Shaquil Barrett – Linebacker, Denver Broncos

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Barrett’s play for the Broncos in 2017 is been a bright spot in a down season. The former undrafted free agent filled in seamlessly for the Broncos after they lost starting linebacker Shane Ray for the first seven game of the season.

Barrett earned national recognition from Pro Football Focus after his stellar performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, and he is coming off another noteworthy performance against the Oakland Raiders last weekend. The linebacker recorded a strip sack and recovered the fumble in the first quarter.

His two forced fumbles lead the Broncos and he ranks second on the team with four sacks despite not being a full-time starter.

Cory James – Linebacker, Oakland Raider

Playing against Barrett last weekend, former teammate Cory James has become a mainstay for the Raiders’ defense. After being selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, James earned a starting gig weeks into his rookie season. This year, he ranks fourth on the team in tackles and leads all Raider linebackers in the category.

Rashard Higgins – Wide receiver, Cleveland Browns

Following a breakout-performance in Week 2 in which he recorded seven catches for 95 yards, Higgins has been less involved in the Browns’ offense. Despite seeing a significant drop in numbers, Higgins has recorded a catch in eight of the ten games he played in. On the season, Higgins has hauled in 20 of his 40 targets for 214 yards.

Ty Sambrailo – Offensive tackle, Atlanta Falcons

After being traded from the Broncos prior to the beginning of 2017, Sambrailo signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Sambrailo earned a start at right tackle in Week 3 has played in 10 games this season. Sambrailo is currently nursing a hamstring injury that kept him out last weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kapri Bibbs – Running back, Washington Redskins (practice squad)

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The former CSU and Broncos running back signed with the Washington Redskins’ practice squad last Saturday. With running backs Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley on injured reserve, Bibbs will look to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster.

In addition, center Weston Richburg (New York Giants), cornerback DeAndre Elliott (Seattle Seahawks) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (Baltimore Ravens) are all on injured reserve. Richburg, named the top center in the NFL by PFF last season, was on his way to another promising campaign before suffering a head injury during Week 4. Elliott and Gillmore have not played this season after suffering ankle and knee injuries in the preseason, respectively.

Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.