When NFL teams make their final cuts it can be a disappointing day for the players who don’t make their team’s roster. Former-Huskers linebacker Luke Gifford and running back Devine Ozigbo were not among the disappointed this year.
Gifford, an undrafted free agent, made the roster for the Dallas Cowboys even after getting hurt in the preseason with a high ankle sprain. The Cowboys front office and coaches saw something in Gifford they couldn’t ignore. According to the depth chart released by ESPN.com, Gifford will be in the rotation with some seasoned linebackers for the Cowboys including Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
Gifford’s future with the Cowboys looks very promising with him playing behind Lee. Lee has yet to play a full 16-game season in his nine seasons in the NFL. More recently Lee only played seven games last year due to a multitude of injuries. Gifford will have to be ready to step in if anything were to happen with Lee’s health.
ESPN.com ranked Dallas as the No. 6 scoring defense in the league. The Cowboys will look to make another leap this year with defensive additions. In Gifford’s only preseason game, he ended with two solo tackles and an interception.
Moving to the offensive side of the ball, Ozigbo, another undrafted free agent, was first signed by the New Orleans Saints, and shared carries in the preseason with running backs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. However, Ozigbo was cut by the Saints after an impressive preseason. The next day, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. According to the depth chart from ESPN.com, Ozigbo is fourth in the rotation behind lead running back Leonard Fournette.
In Ozigbo’s four preseason games with the Saints, he had 21 carries for 92 yards with an average of 4.4 yards per carry, which would have ranked him inside the top-30 running backs last season. Along with an impressive rushing stat line, he had nine receptions on 10 targets for 61 yards and an average of 6.8 yards per reception.
According to ESPN.com, the Jaguars rank in the top-20 for rushing yards. With the addition of Ozigbo, there is a new sense of depth despite Fournette’s recent injuries. Fournette has yet to play a full 16-game season in his two years in the NFL. Last year he played only eight games, meaning it is likely there will be carries for Ozigbo as the season progresses.
These two join a very respected group of former Huskers who have made NFL rosters, alongside players such as Buccaneers’ linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as well as Patriots’ running back Rex Burkhead.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these players as their regular seasons start this Sunday, Sept. 8, with the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the Kansas City Chiefs at noon, and the Dallas Cowboys playing the New York Giants at 3:25 p.m. CT.
Unfortunately, not every recent Husker alumni made final rosters as wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr., linebacker Dedrick Young II and guard Jerald Foster were cut. These former Huskers will be looking to find themselves on a 53-man roster as the season goes on.