Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) catches a long pass to set up a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
While Maryland doesn’t currently have what you would call a powerhouse football program, the Terrapins will be represented in the NFL’s Divisional Round this coming weekend. Some could make a huge impact and some may not. We’ll take a look at how each former Terp has done this year and what to expect this weekend.
- Joe Vellano (defensive tackle, New England Patriots) – Vellano is in his second season in the NFL after being signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland. 2013 was a very big year for Vellano as he appeared in all 16 games for the Patriots, large in part due to the absence of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Vellano registered 54 tackles (20 solo) and a pair of sacks during the 2013 campaign. The New York native also recovered a fumble. Unfortunately for Vellano, 2014 was not nearly as impressive. He only played in five games, accumulating six tackles (three solo). Vellano is currently on the practice squad, so barring a last-minute injury to a New England defensive lineman, the former Terp won’t be playing against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
- Torrey Smith (wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens) – Smith has been one of the most successful Terps in the NFL ranks in recent years. Now in his fourth season with the Ravens, Smith has been a down-the-field threat for Baltimore, including helping his hometown team win a Super Bowl in the 2012 season. In every season Smith has been in the NFL minus the 2014 campaign, Smith has increased his yardage total, including 1,128 yards in 2013. During the 2014 season, the former Terp speedster only registered 49 catches (a career low) for 767 yards and 11 touchdowns (a career high). Aside from former Carolina Panther star wideout Steve Smith, Torrey Smith is one of the top options for quarterback Joe Flacco. With cornerbacks like Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty in New England’s defensive backfield, yards could be scarce in Saturday’s showdown, but you can never rule out a deep reception from the former Maryland star.
- D’Qwell Jackson (linebacker, Indianapolis Colts) – Next to Smith, Jackson has probably been the most productive Terp in the NFL. After seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Jackson was released by the team. Just about a week later, the former Terp linebacker signed with the Indianapolis Colts, inking a four-year, $22 million contract ($11 million guaranteed). In his first season with the Colts, Jackson registered 140 tackles (82 solo), four sacks (a career high), recovered four fumbles, and forced a fumble. In Week 13 against the Washington Redskins, Jackson earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors due to recording 12 tackles, one pass defended, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. The Florida native is the work horse in the middle for the Colts, and will play a big role in trying to slow down Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson. Jackson registered five tackles (two solo) in Indianapolis’s playoff win against the Cincinnati Bengals, and could be a key cog in Sunday’s game.
- Kevin Dorsey (wide receiver, Green Bay Packers) – Dorsey had an odd path to the NFL. The former Terp wasn’t even expected to be drafted, but the Forestville native was selected with the 18th pick in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Draft. On Aug. 27, 2013, Dorsey was placed on Green Bay’s injured reserve list due to a toe injury and spent the entire 2013 season there. In 2014, the former Maryland wideout spent the first five games on the Packers practice squad. On Oct. 6, Dorsey was signed to the active roster and played in three games during the season. He recorded one catch for four yards against the Carolina Panthers before being placed on injured reserve due to injuring his foot in practice. Dorsey won’t be playing against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.