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We meet 13 of the best Central Massachusetts football players on NFL rosters

We meet 13 of the best Central Massachusetts football players on NFL rosters

As the NFL season hits its midpoint, it’s time to check out how local produce fares in the pros.

Chris Lindstrom (Dudley/Shepherd Hill Regional)

Guard, Atlanta Falcons

The former first-round pick out of Boston College has played 42 straight games for the Falcons, and nine games into the season, Pro Football Focus has Lindstrom as the top-rated right guard in the league. The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Lindstrom helped pave the way for Atlanta’s third-ranked offense. The Falcons (4-5) will look to get back to .500 against the Panthers on Thursday, a key matchup in the tough NFC South standings.

Tight end

Noah Gray (Gardner/Leominster High)

Tight end, Kansas City Chiefs

Gray has been in prime form for the Chiefs this season. In Sunday night’s win against the Titans, Gray had a clutch 27-yard reception to help KC score in overtime. “That’s probably why we were able to be successful and win,” Chiefs defensive end Patrick Mahomes said of Gray’s takeover. On Sunday Night Football earlier this season, Gray lined up behind center, took a snap and scored a 1-yard touchdown to help Kansas City beat the Bucks. Gray, Duke’s fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft, has 10 catches for 123 yards this year and continues to be a key pass blocker.

Baltimore Ravens fullback Patrick Rickard waits for a play during the second half of a game against the Browns earlier this season.

Patrick Ricard (Spencer/David Prouty)

Fullback, Baltimore Ravens

Ricard was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and has been a major factor behind the Ravens’ rushing attack during their current three-game winning streak. In wins over the Saints, Bucks and Browns, Baltimore averaged 193 yards on the ground and had a 13-minute advantage in time of possession. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Rickard was a constant presence on the court and, as always, physically blocked. The undrafted free agent out of Maine has four carries for 10 yards and Rickard has helped the Ravens take a one-game lead over the Bengals in the AFC North standings next week.

Lions cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu of Grafton.

Ifeatu Melifonwu (Grafton)

Safety, Detroit Lions

A serious quad injury limited Melifonwa to seven games and four starts last season as a rookie. Injuries again prevented the former third-round pick from Syracuse this year. Melifonwu missed time during training camp, and an ankle injury kept him out of Detroit’s last three games. He played in two games, mostly on special teams.

Cornerback

Isaac Yadom (Worcester/Doherty High)

Cornerback, Houston Texans

Abdominal and hip injuries limited Yiadom to three games. Yadom, a former Boston College star and third-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2018, signed with Houston, his fourth NFL team, in March. Yadom played for the Giants in 2020 and 16 games for the Packers last season.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Sean McKeon.

Sean McKeon (Dudley/Shepherd Hill Regional)

Tight end, Dallas Cowboys

Late last month, the Cowboys promoted McKeon from their practice squad to the active roster for the third time this season. McKeon has played in two games and has one reception for 10 yards. McKeon signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan in 2020 and returned from a neck injury last season to play in 10 games, score his first career touchdown and contribute on special teams.

Former star

Richard Rogers (St. John’s)

Tight end, Los Angeles Chargers

A nine-year NFL veteran, Rodgers was signed to the Chargers’ practice squad on Sept. 5 and the team promoted him to the active roster on Sept. 28. played in six games. Injuries plagued Rodgers during his three seasons with the Eagles. He spent time in and out of Eagles practice last year and appeared in three games. Rodgers had his best season in 2015 with the Packers, when he caught 58 passes for 510 yards.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harty.

Deonte Harty (Assumption)

Wide Receiver/Return Specialist, New Orleans Saints

Harty, known as Deonte Harris during his record-setting and All-American career at Assumption, has been on injured reserve since Oct. 22. Harty had injured his toe in the Saints’ game against the Seahawks two weeks earlier. Before the injury, Harty, who returned as an All-Pro in his rookie season in 2019, averaged 2.7 yards per three punt returns and 22.8 yards per six kickoff returns. He had two receptions for 13 yards.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond.

Caliph Raymond (Holy Cross)

Wide receiver/return specialist, Detroit Lions

With 20 receptions for 255 yards, Raymond ranks fourth among Lions receivers. He averages 7.9 yards on punts and his one kickoff return is 52 yards. Raymond was Detroit’s best player in a loss to the Cowboys on Oct. 23. After two productive seasons with the Titans, Raymond signed with the Lions before the start of last year. He ranked fourth in the NFL with a punt return average of 11.2 yards and set career highs in games played (16), starts (14), receiving yards (576) and receiving touchdowns (4).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers catcher Zach Trainer.

Zach Trainer (The Dormition)

Long snapper, Tampa Bay Bucs

In his fourth season with the Bucks, the former Assumption guard played in all nine games. A finger injury sidelined Triner for nine weeks in 2021, but he played in all 16 regular-season games in 2019 and 2020. He was a member of the Bucs Super Bowl LV championship team. The Bucks have struggled this season, but quarterback Tom Brady’s fourth-quarter touchdown against the Rams last week snapped Tampa Bay’s three-game losing streak.

Former Holy Cross standout Benton Whitley began his NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams, but later worked his way up to the Kansas City Chiefs before finding his current home with the Minnesota Vikings.

Benton Whitley (Holy Cross)

Outside, Minnesota Vikings

The three-time All-Patriot League first-teamer was in his rookie season in the NFL. Whitley originally signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent and spent some time at the defending Super Bowl champion’s practice squad before joining the Chiefs. Whitley was on KC’s active roster for three weeks but did not play in a game. The Chiefs waived him and signed him to their practice squad, and the Vikings added Whitley to their 53-man roster on October 18. He has yet to see action for Minnesota, which has the second-best record in the league at 7-1.

Former star

Alec Lindstrom (Dudley/Shepherd Hill Regional)

Center, Dallas Cowboys (practice squad)

Lindstrom spent most of his first NFL season on the Dallas practice squad. The team elevated him to the 53-man roster on September 17, but he did not participate in the Cowboys’ Week 2 game against the Bengals. At Boston College, Lindstrom was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference member and a finalist for the 2021 Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. He signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. Lindstrom was a high school teammate of Cowboys tight end Sean McKeon and is the younger brother of Falcons defensive end Chris Lindstrom.

Former Holy Cross standout Jimmy Murray started the season on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad before being named to the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad.

Jimmy Murray (Holy Cross)

Forward, Jacksonville Jaguars (practice squad)

The Jaguars signed Murray to their practice squad on September 12. Murray entered the league as an undrafted free agent from the Chiefs in 2018 and made his NFL debut with Kansas City that season. Since then, he has spent time on the Jets, Texans and Ravens practice squads.

Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenTolandTG.


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