11 Former Cal Players On To NFL Divisional Playoffs Next Weekend
BERKELEY – A total of 11 former Cal football players are members of six of the eight teams that have reached the NFL Divisional Playoffs next Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 11-12. Ron Rivera is the Carolina head coach, while the 10 former Cal players on rosters of teams remaining in the playoffs include Keenan Allen (San Diego), C.J. Anderson (Denver), Andre Carter (New England), Brian De La Puente (New Orleans), Lavelle Hawkins (San Diego), Cameron Jordan (New Orleans), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Brandon Mebane (Seattle), Shane Vereen (New England) and Steve Williams (San Diego). This ties Cal for sixth among colleges with former players on teams remaining in the playoffs.
All of the players are on active rosters other than Williams, who is on the injured reserve list.
Cal started the NFL Playoffs with 15 former players on the rosters of nine of the 12 teams that qualified for the post-season but the campaigns of DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia), Marvin Jones (Cincinnati), Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia) and Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) ended during the league’s Wild-Card Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Anderson, Carter, Lynch, Mebane, Rivera and Vereen are members of teams that had byes during the Wild-Card Weekend.
De La Puente and Jordan were the first players to join the six former Golden Bears with byes when their New Orleans Saints came up with a 26-24 road win Saturday over a Philadelphia Eagles’ team that featured Jackson and Kendricks.
Jordan, who ranked fifth in the NFL during the regular season with 12.5 sacks, had game-highs of 1.5 sacks, -15 sack yards, 2.0 tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. His 1.5 sacks tied for the second most during the four Wild-Card Weekend games. De La Puente was the starting center. Jackson had three catches for 53 yards, including a 40-yard reception, in a loss, while Kendricks registered seven tackles for the Eagles.
Allen was the only one of the three former Cal players on the San Diego roster active for the Chargers in a 27-10 win at Cincinnati on Sunday and the NFL Rookie of the Year candidate contributed two catches for 21 yards in the first playoff game of his career. Jones had game highs of eight catches and 130 yards for the Bengals, with his totals tied for the second-most and the third-most on Wild-Card Weekend. With the performance Jones became the second former Cal player to record 100+ receiving yards in an NFL playoff game joining Wesley Walker who accomplished the feat twice for the New York Jets in the 1983 playoffs. Jones had six first-down catches, including a Can't-Miss 49-yard diving catch.
Rodgers had several clutch plays to keep Green Bay in their home game against San Francisco before the 49ers prevailed 23-20 when Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Rodgers kept alive a fourth-quarter touchdown drive for the Packers by evading pressure on fourth-and-two to find Randal Cobb for a Can't-Miss 25-yard completion. Rodgers finished 17-of-26 for 177 yards with one touchdown and did not throw an interception.
The first NFL Divisional Playoff game next Saturday (1:35 p.m. PT, FOX) will feature four former Golden Bears when a Saints squad with De La Puente and Jordan visits a Seahawks team featuring Lynch and Mebane.
Carter and Vereen will make their playoff debuts this season when the Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts in next Saturday’s second contest on CBS at 8:15 p.m. ET/5:15 p.m. PT.
Rivera will be a head coach in an NFL Playoff game for the first time next Sunday when his Panthers host the San Francisco 49ers (1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT, FOX).
A San Diego team with Allen, Hawkins and Williams on its roster visits a Denver squad that includes Anderson on its club to wrap up the NFL Divisional Playoffs next Sunday on CBS at 2:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m. PT.