Jan. 4, 2013
The NFL postseason kicks off tomorrow and four former Colorado State Rams are on rosters of playoff teams seeking the Lombardi Trophy for the 2012 season. A total of eight former Rams finished the regular season on NFL rosters.
Two former Colorado State stars--tight end Joel Dreessen (2001-04) and quarterback Caleb Hanie (2004-07)--are with the AFC's No. 1-seeded Denver Broncos (13-3), who will await a Wild Card round winner to visit Sports Authority Field at Mile High in the Divisional round on Saturday, Jan. 12.
Also in the AFC, linebacker Jesse Nading (2004-07) and his Houston Texans usher in NFL postseason action tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. MT as the conference's No. 3 seed, hosting No. 6 seed Cincinnati at Reliant Stadium.
In the NFC, linebacker Clark Haggans (1996-99) is a key reserve with San Francisco (11-4-1), which secured the conference's No. 2 seed and awaits a Divisional round opponent at home on Jan. 12 after a first-round bye.
Four other Rams finished the season on NFL rosters: Guard Mike Brisiel (2002-05) with the Oakland Raiders; tackle Erik Pears (2001-04) with the Buffalo Bills (injured reserve, 11/6/12); guard Shelley Smith (2007-09) with the St. Louis Rams and tight end Kory Sperry (2004-05, 07-08) with the Arizona Cardinals.
In all, the eight former Rams active in the NFL have played in 505 games and started 285 in a combined 47 professional seasons. Here is a capsule look at each former Ram in the NFL:
MIKE BRISIEL--Guard, Oakland Raiders (CSU 2002-05)
Briesiel started 15 games for the Raiders at right guard in 2012, bringing his career totals to 65 games and 62 starts with Houston (2007-11) and Oakland (2012). He missed only the Raiders final game of the 2012 season after suffering a concussion the second-to-last game.
JOEL DREESSEN--Tight End, Denver Broncos (CSU 2001-04)
Dreessen played in all 16 games and started 15 for the AFC No. 1 seed Denver Broncos in 2012 and caught a career-high 41 passes from Peyton Manning for 356 yards (8.7) and five touchdowns. In seven NFL seasons with the Jets (2005), Houston (2007-11) and Denver (2012) Dreessen has caught 151 passes for 1,720 yards (11.4) and 18 touchdowns.
CLARK HAGGANS--Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers (CSU 1996-99)
Haggans played in nine of the 49ers' final 10 games in the 2012 regular season, missing only the Dec. 23 game at Seattle down the stretch. In 13 NFL seasons with Pittsburgh (2000-07), Arizona (2008-11) and San Francisco (2012) Haggans has posted 46.5 sacks and one interception, playing in 172 games (104 starts). His career statistics also include 24 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He has been a full-time starter in seven of his 13 NFL seasons.
CALEB HANIE--Quarterback, Denver Broncos (CSU 2004-07)
Hanie did not see game action in 2012 as a backup quarterback to NFL MVP candidate Peyton Manning. He has played in 10 games and made four starts over four NFL seasons with Chicago (2008-11) and Denver (2012). He saw the most game action of his career last season in Chicago, playing in six games and starting four, throwing for 63 yards and three touchdown passes while completing 50 percent of his throws. For his career Hanie has completed 50.9% (59-116) for 679 yards and three touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
JESSE NADING--Linebacker, Houston Texans (CSU 2004-07)
Nading saw action as a reserve linebacker in all 16 regular season games for the AFC's No. 3 seed, the Houston Texans, in 2012. He posted a career-high 13 special teams tackles to go with three defensive stops. Over his five-year career he has played in 39 games and made 16 tackles, including 1.0 sack (0.5 each in 2010 and '11), one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
ERIK PEARS--Tackle, Buffalo Bills (CSU 2001-04)
Pears started the first seven games of 2012 for Buffalo, after starting all 16 in 2011, before being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 6, 2012 because of a hip injury. In six NFL seasons with Denver (2006-07), Oakland (2009) and Buffalo (2010-12) Pears has played in 69 games and made 54 starts.
SHELLEY SMITH--Guard, St. Louis Rams (2007-09)
Smith saw the first game action of his NFL career in 2012 with St. Louis, playing in 11 games and starting six. He began his career as a sixth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans in 2010 and spent two seasons with the Texans, as well as the 2012 training camp, before signing with St. Louis on Sept. 2.
KORY SPERRY--Tight End, Arizona Cardinals (CSU 2004-08)
Sperry signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 4, 2012 to extend his NFL career to four seasons. He saw action in one game after having been out of the NFL following his release from the San Diego Chargers at the end of training camp. In four NFL seasons with Miami (2009), San Diego (2010-11) and Arizona (2012), Sperry has played in 32 games and started six, catching eight passes for 136 yards (17.0) and one touchdown.