Andre Brown (2005-08), RB, NY Giants – Brown enters his fourth NFL season with the Giants, and is listed as the team’s fourth running back on the depth chart to open the 2012 campaign. Selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft (No. 129 overall), Brown has had stints with several other NFL teams, including the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins, before being re-signed by the Giants prior to the 2011 season.
Audie Cole (2008-11), LB, Minnesota Vikings – Cole, who signed a four-year rookie contract and was chosen in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, is slotted as team’s second-string middle linebacker to begin his rookie campaign. With size (6’4, 245 lbs.) and speed (4.76 40-yd), Cole is also expected to contribute on the special teams unit.
Jerricho Cotchery (2000-03), WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Cotchery begins his ninth NFL season, and second with the Steelers, as the team’s No. 4 wide receiver. After spending his first seven seasons with the New York Jets, Cotchery appeared in 13 games last season and recorded 13 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns. A fourth-round selection in the 2004 NFL Draft (No. 108 overall), Cotchery has 374 receptions for 4,751 yards and 20 touchdowns.
T.J. Graham (2008-11), WR, Buffalo Bills – A third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft (No. 69 overall), Graham has impressed with his speed on deep routes in the preseason and is listed as the team’s third-string wide receiver on the depth chart to start his rookie season.
*Leroy Harris (2003-06), OL, Tennessee Titans – Entering his sixth NFL season with the Titans, Harris will open the 2012 season as the team’s starting right guard. A fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft (No. 115 overall), Harris has missed just two total games in the last four seasons, while starting 31 of the team’s last 32 regular-season games.
*Steven Hauschka (2007), PK, Seattle Seahawks – After signing a one-year $1.26M contract in the off-season, Hauschka will be the Seahawks’ placekicker for the 2012 season. Hauschka appeared in all 16 games last season and connected on 25 of 30 field goal attempts, while converting on all 34 extra-point attempts. His longest field goal was a 52-yarder, two yards shy of his career-long – a 54-yarder in 2008 with the Baltimore Ravens.
Nate Irving (2007-10), LB, Denver Broncos – Irving appeared in all 16 regular-season and both playoff games as a Broncos rookie in 2011. A third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft (No. 67 overall), Irving is listed as the second-string strong-side linebacker behind Von Miller to start the 2012 campaign.
Markus Kuhn (2007-08, 2010-11), DT, NY Giants – Kuhn, a seventh-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, made the team’s final roster and is listed as the team’s backup right defensive tackle behind veteran Rocky Bernard.
*Ted Larsen (2006-09), OL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Larsen enters his third season on the Bucs’ offensive line, having played in 28 of the team’s 32 games in the last two seasons, while making 14 total starts. Despite seeing limited time last season, the former sixth-round draft pick is penciled in as the team’s starting right guard to open the 2012 season.
*Manny Lawson (2002-05), LB, Cincinnati Bengals – Lawson enters his second season with the Bengals, after spending the first five with the San Francisco 49ers. The former first-round pick has started all but one game in the last three seasons. Lawson finished the 2011 season fifth on the team in tackles with 78, signed a one-year deal worth $2.1M in the off-season and is listed as the team’s starting strong-side linebacker this season.
*Sean Locklear (2000-03), OL, NY Giants – After spending his first seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and last season with the Washington Redskins, Locklear joined the Super Bowl champion Giants as a free agent this past offseason with hopes of helping out an evolving offensive line in New York. It just so turns out that Locklear impressed enough in the preseason to earn the starting gig at left tackle and protect quarterback Eli Manning’s blindside to start the 2012 season.
Terrell Manning (2009-11), LB, Green Bay Packers – Selected in the 5th round (No. 163 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft, Manning made the Packers’ roster out of preseason and is slotted as the third left inside linebacker on the team’s depth chart.
*Philip Rivers (2000-03), QB, San Diego Chargers – Rivers enters his ninth season at the helm of the Chargers’ offense, coming off his fifth-straight season of passing for at least 25 touchdowns, and his fourth-straight year with at least 4,000 passing yards. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Rivers earned his third-straight and fourth overall trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and hopes to get the Chargers back to the postseason for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
*J.R. Sweezy (2009-11), OL, Seattle Seahawks – A defensive tackle in college, Sweezy made a rare, yet successful transition into an offensive guard for the Seahawks, and is slated to open the season as the team’s starting right guard in his rookie campaign in 2012. A 7th-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, Sweezy is getting a great opportunity and will look to solidify his role as a starter this season.
*Stephen Tulloch (2003-05), LB, Detroit Lions – Tulloch enters his 7th NFL season in 2012, and his second with the Lions, after spending his first five seasons with the Tennessee Titans. The former fourth-round pick and center of the Lions improved defense led the team in tackles with 111, while notching his third-straight season with at least 110 tackles. Tulloch set career-highs in sacks (3), fumble recoveries (3) and interceptions (2) and was rewarded with a five-year contract extension worth nearly $26M in the offseason.
*Mario Williams (2003-05), DE, Buffalo Bills – Williams, a two-time Pro Bowl starter and six-year member of the Houston Texans, is set for a new beginning in his first season as a member of the Buffalo Bills, after signing one of the richest contracts given to a defensive player in NFL history – a six year deal that could be worth $100M. Williams was shifted to an outside linebacker position last season in Houston, but the Bills have reverted him back to his original position as one of the league’s best pass-rushing defensive ends. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft has 241 total tackles, 53 sacks and 11 forced fumbles for his career.
*Adrian Wilson (1998-00), S, Arizona Cardinals – Wilson, one of the NFL’s most respected veteran safeties, will begin his 12th NFL season, all of which have been played for the Arizona Cardinals. The former third-round pick has played in every game in each of the last three seasons, and deflected a career-high 14 passes in 2011. Wilson has 840 total tackles, 22 sacks, 96 pass deflections, 26 interceptions, 13 fumbles forced and 8 fumble recoveries in his NFL career.
*Russell Wilson (2008-10), QB, Seattle Seahawks – Wilson was picked in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Seattle, despite the team signing former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn to a three-year deal worth about $20M. Taking full advantage of his opportunities to showcase his skills during training camp and preseason action, Wilson won the quarterback battle and will start the season atop the Seahawks’ depth chart.
Willie Young (2006-09), DE, Detroit Lions – After appearing in 14 games last season and producing in a backup role along Detroit’s defensive front, Young enters his third season with the Lions in 2012. Young, who recorded 14 total tackles last season to go along with three sacks and one pass deflection, is slated to serve as the Lions’ reserve right defensive end behind veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch to open the 2012 campaign.
NOTE: * - indicates a first string player