Handful of Former Pack Players Aiming for Super Bowl
Jan. 4, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. - As the NFL playoffs get underway this weekend, a handful of former NC State football players are on teams with hopes of finishing the season with a Super Bowl victory.
In the only game this week that pits a couple of former Pack players against each other, Jerricho Cotchery and the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Denver and face Nate Irving and the Broncos Sunday afternoon.
After playing his first seven seasons with the N.Y. Jets, Cotchery signed a one-year free agent deal with the Steelers. After missing the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury, Cotchery finished the season with 16 catches for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the 12-4 Steelers as they earned a playoff berth for the eighth time in the last 11 years.
Irving, a third round draft pick this past spring for Denver, saw action in all 16 games this season mainly on special teams. The Broncos finished at 8-8 and were the AFC West champions for the first time since 2005.
A pair of former Pack defensive players helped the Detroit Lions to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance since 1999. The Lions travel to New Orleans Saturday night.
Linebacker Stephen Tulloch signed a one-year deal with the Lions in the offseason after his first five years were with the Tennessee Titans. Tulloch started all 16 games at middle linebacker, and led the Lions with 111 tackles. It marked his third straight season he went over 100 tackles.
Defensive end Willie Young saw increased playing time in his second season in Detroit. He appeared in 14 games, and finished with 14 tackles and 3.0 sacks.
Also benefiting from a change of teams, Manny Lawson helped the Cincinnati Bengals earn a wild card berth at 9-7. After spending his first 5 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Lawson signed with the Bengals this summer. He started 15 games at outside linebacker, and finished with 52 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Bengals will travel to Houston on Saturday.
Another former Pack player will be sidelined during the playoffs due to injury. Mario Williams tore his pectoral muscle in the fifth game of the season, as the Texans went on to win the AFC South and are the No. 3 seed. At the time of his injury, Williams was leading the AFC in sacks as he switched to outside linebacker this season.
Another Pack player's squad also made the playoffs, as running back Andre Brown spent all season on the AFC East champion N.Y. Giants practice squad.