April 29, 2011
Former Hilltoppers Bobby Rainey and Derrius Brooks may not have been drafted this weekend, but both found spots on an NFL roster. Rainey was signed by the Baltimore Ravens and Brooks is now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Some thoughts on both signings:
-Rainey landed in a great spot. First and foremost, he will play for coach John Harbaugh. And the connections between the Harbaugh family, WKU, and coach Willie Taggart have been well documented. More important, Rainey has a chance to be the number two running back behind Ray Rice. With the retirement of Ricky Williams, the Ravens are suddenly very thin at the position. Outside of Rice, the only running back on the Ravens' roster with any stats from last year is Anthony Allen (three carries for eight yards). Fullback Vonta Leach rushed 12 times for 35 yards, but he is primarily a blocker. Plus, Rice is currently not under contract and will probably be a holdout. Depending on how long that will last, Rainey has a huge opportunity to make a big impression and will probably see an increased workload during OTAs and possibly training camp. Frankly, Rainey could not have asked for a much better scenario.
-Brooks is also in a nice spot with the Bengals, but he faces a much steeper challenge. The Bengals need help in the secondary, but they addressed that position a ton in free agency and the draft. Cincinnati resigned Adam Jones, acquired veterans Jason Allen and Terence Newman, and spent its first round draft pick on Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick and a fifth round pick on Iowa's Shaun Prater. Basically, the Bengals have a slew of defensive backs right now. Brooks certainly has a chance to make the 53-man roster in the fall, but he will have to beat out a lot of other guys to do it.
That's all for now. It will be fun to follow their progress throughout the summer and fall.