19 Former Cardinals on 2021 NFL Training Camp Rosters

With the NFL's 2021 Training Camp getting started, nearly 20 former Louisville football players are competing for spots on 53-man rosters.
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(Photo of Jaire Alexander: Mark Hoffman - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The long offseason is nearly over, and the 2021 NFL season is just on the horizon. On July 27, training camp across the league officially began for all 32 teams, starting the process of shaping roster ahead of the 53-man roster cut deadline on Aug. 31.

As you can imagine, there is a significant Louisville presence across the league as teams prepare to begin their season. At the start of training camp, 19 former Cardinals are on rosters in hopes of making the final cut.

Many are guaranteed to make the final roster, while others are in need of a strong preseason. Below are all 19 former Louisville football players taking part in the NFL's training camp, sorted by each category.

53-Man Lock

Jaire Alexander

Position: Cornerback
Team: Green Bay Packers
Years at UofL: 2015-17

Not only has Alexander turned one of the top defensive backs in the league, he is one of the top young players in the NFL, being named to the 2021 All-Under-25 Team. He logged 51 total tackles (40 solo), 13 pass defenses, an interception and a sack that resulted in a safety in 15 games during the regular season. Despite a loss in the NFC Championship to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, he logged a pair of fourth quarter picks that kept the Packers in the game.

Tutu Atwell

Position: Wide Receiver
Team: Los Angeles Rams
Years at UofL: 2018-20

The first rookie on this list, Atwell didn't have to wait very long in this 2021 NFL Draft to hear his name, as the Rams took him with the No. 57 overall pick in the second round. During his final season with Louisville, despite a slight dip in production due to injuries and defenses keying on him, Atwell still managed to lead the Cardinals with 46 receptions and seven touchdowns. He was second in receiving yards with 625.

Mekhi Becton

Position: Offensive Tackle
Team: New York Jets
Years at UofL: 2017-19

Speaking of the 2021 All-Under-25 List, Becton was another former Cardinal named to the list. He had a very impactful rookie campaign in 2020, ranked as the No. 31 overall tackle by Pro Football Focus, and could have been higher had he not missed a pair of games due to injury.

Teddy Bridgewater

Position: Quarterback
Team: Denver Broncos
Years at UofL: 2011-13

Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract with the Panthers last offseason, but had an up and down lone season in Charlotte. He completed 69.1 percent of his pass attempts for 3,733 yards and 15 touchdowns, but also threw 11 interceptions and fumbled six times. Bridgewater was eventually traded to Denver after the Panthers traded for former Jets QB Sam Darnold, and is in a quarterback battle with Drew Lock.

James Burgess

Position: Inside Linebacker
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Years at UofL: 2012-15

Burgess had a roller coaster 2020 season. He re-signed with the Jets to a one year deal last offseason, but was waived one week before the start of the season. The Packers signed him prior to Week 7, playing in four games and collecting three solo tackles, but landed on injured reserve in late November with a hamstring injury and never made another appearance. He signed a one year deal with the 49ers back in May.

Dez Fitzpatrick

Position: Wide Receiver
Team: Tennessee Titans
Years at UofL: 2016-20

Thanks to a strong pre-draft showing, Fitzpatrick worked himself in a mid-round 2021 NFL Draft pick, getting selected by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 109 overall pick in the fourth round. In his fifth and final year with Louisville, he led the team in receiving yards (833) and yards per catch (19.37), was second in receptions with 43, trailing only Atwell's 46. He also finished with three receiving touchdowns, resulting in being named a Second Team All-ACC selection.

Jonathan Greenard

Position: Outside Linebacker
Team: Houston Texans
Years at UofL: 2015-17

Greenard didn't stuff the stat sheet during his rookie campaign in 2020, but Texans are high on his potential. Seeing action in 13 games, he logged 19 tackles (10 solo), two tackles for loss and a sack.

Lamar Jackson

Position: Quarterback
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Years at UofL: 2015-17

Circling back to the All-Under-25 list, Jackson is the third and final Cardinal to appear on it. He followed up his MVP year with 2,757 yards & 26 touchdowns through the air, with an additional 1,005 yards & seven touchdowns on the ground. However, his training camp is already off to a rocky start, as he tested positive for COVID-19 on the first day of practice.

John Miller

Position: Offensive Guard
Team: Carolina Panthers
Years at UofL: 2011-14

Miller might not be blocking for Bridgewater anymore, but his is still an effective lineman heading in year seven. He started 14 games last season, only allowed three sacks and six penalties, good for 19th and 7th in the league.

DeVante Parker

Position: Wide Receiver
Team: Miami Dolphins
Years at UofL: 2011-14

After his first 1000-yard season in 2019, the injury bug caught up to Parker in 2020. He started just 11 games while playing 14, hauling in 63 receptions for 793 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, he is still on the Physically Unable to Play (PUP) list, and his status for Week 1 remains questionable.

Sheldon Rankins

Position: Defensive Tackle
Team: New York Jets
Years at UofL: 2012-15

Rankins had a down year in 2020, thanks in part to a pair of Achilles injuries over the previous two seasons. He played in 12 games last season, but made just one start, collecting 20 tackles (13 solo), three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. After joining Becton in New York, he has said that he feels completely recovered from his past injuries.

Strong Camp Needed

Reggie Bonnafon

Position: Running Back
Team: Carolina Panthers
Years at UofL: 2014-17

Like in 2019, Bonnafon spent most of his time in 2020 bouncing in between the 53-man roster and the practice squad. He appeared in just two games, rushing 12 times for 69 yards. Considering the Panthers have arguably the best running back in the league in Christian McCaffrey, and drafted Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard, it will be an uphill battle to make the roster.

Marlon Character

Position: Cornerback
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Years at UofL: 2017-20

Character was one of four Cardinals to sign undrafted free agent contracts this offseason. He quietly put together a solid year for Louisville in 2020, finishing with 37 tackles (29 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, seven pass deflections (second on the team) and his first career interception.

Geron Christian Sr.

Position: Offensive Tackle
Team: Houston Texans
Years at UofL: 2015-17

Christian was another former Cardinals that had to deal with the injury bug in 2020. Thanks to a knee injury, he made just six starts in 2020. He joined the Texans in the offseason, and is listed as the fourth string tackle.

Brandon Dunn

Position: Nose Tackle
Team: Houston Texans
Years at UofL: 2010-13

Though he hasn't been overly impactful during his career, he has managed to stick around the league for seven years, and five with the Texans. Last season, he notched 26 tackles (12 solo), but finds himself in a non-starting role during training camp.

Dorian Etheridge

Position: Inside Linebacker
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Years at UofL: 2017-20

Etheridege was one of two Cardinals to sign undrafted free agent deals with the Falcons after the 2021 draft. In 2020, he had the third-most tackles on the team with 50 (31 solo), while leading the team in tackles for loss with 9.0. His 2.5 sacks was good for third, and he was one of eight Cards to force a fumble.

Jared Goldwire

Position: Defensive Tackle
Team: Los Angeles Chargers
Years at UofL: 2018-20

While Atwell was drafted by the Rams, Goldwire signed a UDFA deal with the Chargers. He totaled 83 tackles (46 solo), 10.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four pass deflections and one forced fumble in 32 career games as a Cardinal.

Javian Hawkins

Position: Running Back
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Years at UofL: 2018-20

In one of the bigger local NFL Draft surprises, Hawkins went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft, but in turn, he was one of the first players to ink a UDFA deal. Despite opting out of the 2020 season with four games left on the schedule, Hawkins was the Cardinals' leading rusher on year, rushing for 822 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries to average 6.2 yards per carry.

Cole Hikutini

Position: Tight End
Team: New York Giants
Years at UofL: 2015-16

Ever since making his NFL debut in 2017 with the San Francisco 49ers, Hikutini has bounced around a couple practice squads around the league. He was with the Cowboys for a coupel years, and now finds himself with NFC East rival New York.

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