Three former Blue Devils are set to get their first taste of NFL Football as the preseason gets under way this week. Cornerback Ross Cockrell and the Buffalo Bills will open the NFL season in the Hall of Fame game tonight against the New York Giants. Running Back Juwan Thompson and defensive end Kenny Anunike are still teammates, now for the Denver Broncos. They will play their first game in a rematch of the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ross Cockrell was picked by the Bills in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He was the highest drafted Blue Devil in 15 years. Cockrell reportedly has shown the same aggressive play that he became known for at Duke. He has primarily been working with the third team defense, but could get some looks in the second team nickel packages. He should be a lock for a roster spot, based on his draft status, but is still looking to solidify a place on the depth chart in a deep secondary.
Juwan Thompson was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent and has made a strong impression so far in camp. Thompson has shown great ability in pass protection and a good understanding of routes, something important when playing with Peyton Manning. He has been steadily rising up the depth chart, even getting some reps with the second team offense.
Kenny Anunike also signed with the Broncos after going undrafted. After six years at Duke it will be odd to see Anunike in another uniform. Originally thought to be a long shot to make the team, Kenny has really made the most of his opportunity. He has performed well, often going with the second team defense. Anunike has earned praise from teammates and coaches and shown strength and quickness that have made concerns about his his durability a thing of the past.
Anunike was also the victim of new Bronco, Demarcus Ware’s attempt to be a barber. Kenny is now sporting a wicked forehead-stache.
Good luck to these rookies and all former Blue Devils as the NFL season gets started.