COMMODORES IN THE NFL
Note: This information on Vanderbilt players on current National Football League rosters was updated Sept. 12, 2017.
Adam Butler (2013-16) // New England // NFL Bio // Butler made the Patriots' 53-man opening day roster after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent with the defending Super Bowl champions last May. Butler is playing both tackle and end at New England.
Week 1: Butler saw initial NFL action, contributing a tackle as reserve defensive tackle in Pats' 42-27 home loss to Kansas City last Thursday.
Week 2: Butler earned his first career start in the Patriots 36-20 victory over New Orleans. He was on the field for 45 of the team's defensive snaps on the game (69%).
Zach Cunningham (2013-16) // Houston // NFL Bio // The 57th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Cunningham has impressed since he arrived in Houston. A consensus First Team All-America inside linebacker for the Commodores in 2016, Cunningham has received high marks from Texan coaches with his abilities to play the rush and defend the pass. Cunningham joins a Houston defense that features returning linebacker starters Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing, All-Pro tackle J.J. Watt, end Jadeveon Clowney and former Commodore defensive back Andre Hal.
Week 1: Cunningham had four assisted tackles, a tackle for loss and deflected pass in the Texans' 29-7 home loss to Jacksonville.
Week 2: Like Butler, Cunningham was giving the starting nod for the first time of his NFL career on Sunday, filling in for the suspended Brian Cushing. Cunningham finished the game with six total tackles, including four solo stops, as Houston picked up a 13-9 victory over Cincinnati.
Jay Cutler (2002-05) // Miami // NFL Bio // Retirement didn't last long for the veteran Cutler, who has decided to continue his career with former Bears mentor Adam Gase in South Beach. Gase confirmed Cutler's return to the NFL , Aug. 7. Cutler, named to the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015, has thrown for 32,467 yards and 208 touchdowns during an 11-year career with Denver and Chicago. He suffered a season-ending arm injury midway through the 2007 season, and announced intentions in May to join FOX Sports as a NFL color analyst. A leg injury to Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill opened a path for Cutler's return to the game. After a strong preseason, Cutler looks to lead Miami back to the playoffs.
Week 1: Due to Hurricane Irma, the Miami-Tampa Bay game originally scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 10 has been pushed back to Sunday, Nov. 19. Cutler attended the Vanderbilt-Alabama A&M home opener last Saturday.
Week 2: Cutler led Miami to a fourth-quarter comeback victory in his first game as the starting quarterback for the Dolphins. Cutler helped engineer a drive that resulted in a Cody Parkey game-winning field goal with 1:05 left to play, as the Dolphins defeated the Chargers by a score of 19-17.
Andre Hal (2010-13) // Houston // NFL Bio // Hal, the Texans' starting free safety, signed a new three-year deal in August in advance of his fourth season with the club. Hal is coming off his finest year, helping Houston advance to the second round of the AFC playoffs by registering 60 total tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended. In his final appearance last year, Hal registered six total tackles, an interception and two defensed passes in Houston's playoff loss to the Patriots. The former Commodore cornerback also earned 11 starts at free safety last year, and has 22 career starting assignments. Former Vanderbilt All-America Zach Cunningham joins Hal on the Houston roster.
Week 1: Hal contributed six total tackles, including a tackle for loss, in Houston's 29-7 home loss to Jacksonville.
Week 2: Hal helped the Houston defense hold Cincinnati without a touchdown on Thursday, as the Texans defeated the Bengals, 13-9. Hal started at safety and contributed with two tackles.
Casey Hayward (2008-11) // L.A. Chargers // NFL Bio // Hayward enters his sixth season regarded as one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks. In 2016, Hayward enjoyed his finest season, earning his initial Pro Bowl recognition after leading the league with seven interceptions. He also ranked second in the league with 21 pass deflections, and finished the 2016 regular season with 35 solo tackles. He joins former Commodore offensive lineman Spencer Pulley on the Charger roster.
Week 1: Contributed four tackles and an 11-yard fumble recovery return in Los Angeles' 24-21 loss at Denver Monday night.
Week 2: Hayward started at corner and recorded five tackles in Los Angeles' 19-17 loss against Miami.
Will Holden (2013-16) // Arizona // NFL Bio // Selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Holden earned a spot of Arizona's 53-man opening day roster with a solid showing during the preseason. He has the versatility to play either tackle or guard for the Cardinals.
Week 1: Holden was inactive for the Cardinals' 35-23 home loss to Detroit on Sunday.
Week 2: Holden was one of three Commodore rookies to earn his first career NFL start on Sunday and helped the Cardinals to the team's first win of the season with a 16-13 overtime victory over the Colts.
Andrew Jelks (2013-16) // New England // NFL Bio // Jelks was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list Sept. 2 by the Patriots. New England coach Bill Belichick was impressed by Jelks at Vanderbilt Pro Day in March, then added Jelks as an undrafted free agent in May. Though he missed the last two seasons at Vanderbilt due to injury, Jelks joins fellow Commodore undrafted rookie free agent Adam Butler with the Patriots.
Wesley Johnson (2010-13) // New York Jets // NFL Bio // Johnson enters his fourth professional season as the Jets' starting center, a role that Nick Mangold has served for the last decade. Johnson is coming off a 2016 campaign when he filled in admirably for an injured Mangold, starting eight of the final nine games for the Jets.
Week 1: Johnson started at center as the N.Y. Jets fell at Buffalo 21-12 on Sunday.
Week 2: Started at center once again and helped pave the way for the New York run game, as the Jets finished the day with 126 yards on 25 carries (5.04 ypc) in a loss to Oakland.
Jordan Matthews (2010-13) // Buffalo // NFL Bio // Matthews enters his fourth season in the NFL. On Aug. 11, 2017, Matthews was traded from Philadelphia to the Buffalo Bills. Matthews has missed three weeks this preseason with an injury, but is expected to start in the season opener vs. New York. The Commodores' all-time leading receiver is coming off a campaign when he ranked second on the Eagles with 73 receptions and 804 receiving yards. Matthews posted impressive numbers in Philly: 225 receptions, 2,673 receiving yards and 19 touchdown catches in 35 career starts.
Week 1: Returning from a preseason injury, Matthews registered two catches for 61 yards, including a 47-yarder, in Buffalo's 21-12 home win over the N.Y. Jets this Sunday.
Week 2: Had three catches for 30 yards in the team's loss to Carolina on Sunday. Matthews is currently the team's leading receiver through two weeks of the season with 91 yards.
Spencer Pulley (2011-15) // L.A. Chargers // NFL Bio // Entering his second professional season, Pulley looks to be the opening day starter as Philip Rivers' center in Los Angeles. Pulley has enjoyed a quick rise since signing with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent in May 2016. As a rookie, Pulley saw action in all 16 games for San Diego, contributing on both special teams and the offensive line. He joins former Commodore cornerback Casey Hayward on the Charger roster.
Week 1: Pulley earned his first NFL career start Monday night, working as Philip Rivers' center in the Chargers' narrow loss at Denver.
Week 2: Started at center for the Chargers on Sunday in the team's 19-17 loss to the Jay Cutler led Dolphins.
Stephen Weatherly (2012-15) // Minnesota // NFL Bio // Weatherly enters his second season in Minneapolis aiming for an important role on the Vikings' defensive front. Selected in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Weatherly finished last year on Minnesota's active roster, garnering a couple of tackles in late-season appearances. Weatherly has worked hard to transition from an outside linebacker at Vanderbilt, and currently sits at the top reserve to Viking right end starter Everson Griffen.
Week 1: Weatherly contributed on special teams and at defensive end in the Vikings' impressive 29-19 home victory over New Orleans on Monday night.
Week 2: Saw game action, but did not record any statistics, in Minnesota's 26-9 loss to Pittsburgh.
In other recent NFL news regarding Commodores:
Andrew East (2011-14) // Oakland Raiders // East was released by Oakland Sept. 2. He was in camp with the Raiders vying for the team's coveted snapping role on punts and conversions. Originally signed out of Vanderbilt by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015, East also competed for the same responsibilities with the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
Barrett Gouger (2013-16) // L.A. Chargers // Gouger was released by Chargers Sept. 2. He signed a rookie free agent deal with the Chargers on Aug. 4, one day after a tryout with the team. Gouger will attempt to earn a role with the Chargers at either center or guard.
Jonathan Krause (2010-13) // Tennessee // Krause was released by Titans Sept. 2. He impressed Tennessee teammates and coaches this preseason with his receiving abilities and desire as he works to secure a spot on the team's active roster. The wide receiver enters his second year with the Titan organization - and fourth year overall in the NFL. Krause earned a Super Bowl ring as a practice squad player for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
Darrius Sims (2013-16) // Tennessee // Sims was released by Titans Sept. 2. He was signed as a rookie free agent Aug. 17 by the Titans. A versatile player who saw action as a defensive back, receiver, running back and kick returner for the Commodores is getting repetitions at cornerback for the Titans. He was originally signed by Tennessee as an undrafted free agent in May.
Steven Scheu (2011-15) // Denver // Scheu was released by the Broncos Sept. 2. Scheu was looking to make the Broncos active roster after signing a rookie free agent deal with the team during the 2016 season. Originally signed as a rookie by New England last year.
Andrew Williamson (2012-15) // Indianapolis // Williamson was released by the Colts Sept. 6 after being added to team's practice squad on Sept. 3. Williamson was originally signed by the Colta as an undrafted free agent in 2016 but missed much the season due to injury.
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