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Several South Carolina alumni look to make their mark in NFL training camps

Checking in with former South Carolina football players who did, in fact, go pro in sports.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp
Philadelphia receiver Alshon Jeffery will be a weapon for second-year quarterback Carson Wentz in the Eagles’ new-look offense.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Now that most NFL teams are wrapping up their first full week of training camp, it's a good time to check in with Gamecocks around the league as anticipation builds for another football season. Some former players were rewarded with big pay days in the offseason; others are still working hard to find a home in the NFL.


Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: Philadelphia made a splash in free agency this offseason with the acquisition of Jeffery, who performed in Chicago to such an extent that the Bears were no longer able to afford his services. With promising second-year quarterback Carson Wentz throwing to him, Jeffery could be on the way to another big season if he can keep the injury bug at bay.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, Texans: After being prematurely written off as a bust, Clowney looks to build on his breakthrough season in 2016 (16 tackles for loss and six sacks in 14 games). The world will finally get to see a healthy Clowney and J.J. Watt on the field at the same time, which is both a delightful and terrifying thought.

Melvin Ingram, DE, Chargers: Los Angeles rewarded Ingram's steady production with a four-year deal in the offseason. He'll be returning to his natural position after playing outside linebacker his first five seasons.

Stephon Gilmore, CB, Patriots: Gilmore was another big winner in free agency, departing Buffalo to join the reigning Super Bowl champions. Viewed as among the better corners in the league, he's coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he had a career-high five interceptions.

D.J. Swearinger, S, Redskins: Swearinger has bounced around quite a bit in his career, now on his fourth team in five years. His final season with the Cardinals was his most productive, pulling down three interceptions. In Washington, he's reunited with fellow defensive back and former Greenwood High teammate Josh Norman.

Jared Cook, TE, Raiders: A recipient of this year's ESPY for Best Play (along with former teammate and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers), Cook will have another dynamic quarterback to work with in Oakland's Derek Carr.

Patrick DiMarco, FB, Bills: One of the premier players at a position that has become an endangered species, DiMarco will be counted on by Buffalo to continue the strong play he showed during Atlanta's Super Bowl run.

Darian Stewart, CB, Broncos: Once an undrafted free agent and now in possession of a Super Bowl ring, Stewart received a four-year extension and continues to be a factor in Denver's strong defense.

Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Panthers: After a brief stint in Minnesota, Munnerlyn returned to Carolina, where he still holds a couple of interception-related franchise records. Slated to be the starter at nickel, he was also brought back to help coach up the team's young secondary.

Johnathan Joseph, CB, Texans: If it feels like Joseph has been in the league for 12 years, it's because he has. A two-time Pro Bowler, the veteran plays a valuable role in Houston's secondary.

Ryan Succop, K, Titans: The former Mr. Irrelevant has continued to drill field goals, making 22 of 24 in 2016 with the two misses being attempts that exceeded 50 yards.

Brandon Shell, OL, Jets and A.J. Cann, OL, Jaguars: These young linemen may not start, but are heavily in the rotation with their respective teams.

Corey Robinson, OL, Lions: Robinson has struggled with injuries in his career, but Detroit likes him as a reserve tackle and has even given him some spot duty at tight end.

T.J. Johnson, OL, Bengals: Johnson seems to have solidified himself as a go-to backup at both center and guard in Cincinnati.


NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA
Los Angeles Rams receiver Pharoh Cooper might see most of his action on the field on special teams.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Taylor, DE, Giants: After a disappointing 2016 as a starter in Detroit, Taylor will likely play in more of a situational pass-rushing role with New York, which is probably a better fit for his game.

Pharoh Cooper, WR, Rams: Entering the second year of his rookie deal, Cooper has to contend with a crowded receiver corps. It's unlikely the Rams cut him loose at this juncture, but his best bet for snaps may be at kick returner.

Jerell Adams, TE, Giants: Adams had a quietly solid rookie season but now faces a lot of competition at his position with New York drafting a first-round tight end and adding more via free agency. His measurables and blocking could give him the edge.


NFL: Chicago Bears-Minicamp
Chicago quarterback Connor Shaw, right, continues his interesting journey with the Bears.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Damiere Byrd, WR, Panthers: Byrd has been hanging around on the Panthers' practice squad for a couple years now, seemingly close to cracking the 53-man roster but never quite getting there. He did get some snaps in the Panthers' 2016 season finale and has special teams value, but may be running out of chances to make a case for himself.

Brandon Wilds, RB, Browns: Wilds finds himself in Cleveland after being waived by the Jets, with whom he saw action in four games last year. At best, he's competing for a third-string spot, but it is the Browns -- their roster moves are often full of intrigue, to put it politely.

Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks: Davis was released after failing to catch on in San Francisco. He joins a crowded backfield in Seattle , so cracking the roster will be a difficult task.

Connor Shaw, QB, Bears: What a strange trip it's been for the former Gamecock legend. First, a broken leg in the 2016 preseason derailed what might have been a promising campaign. Then, the Bears all but announced Shaw's release earlier in the offseason, but a knee injury to Mark Sanchez forced Chicago to keep him on its roster. Shaw is now in a very interesting QB room that contains the likes of first-round pick Mitch Trubisky, Mike Glennon and Sanchez. It's hard to stay what his future holds -- at least as far as the Bears are concerned -- but he's a hard man to count out.

Isaiah Johnson, S, Buccaneers: Johnson was on Tampa Bay's practice squad for all of 2016, so the Bucs liked him enough to keep him around. Whether he can make the leap to the 53-man roster remains to be seen.

Bruce Ellington, WR: Ellington was freshly cut by the 49ers Thursday after injury derailed what could have been a breakout season in 2016. It's possible another squad will give him a shot because of his ability to contribute on special teams.