The latest on Cougars in the NFL and how they performed in the 2016 season.
BYU had several former athletes make big impacts for their NFL teams in the 2016 season. Dennis Pitta put up record-breaking numbers in his first full season back after multiple hip injuries, Daniel Sorensen was a standout for the Chiefs secondary en route to a playoff berth, and Kyle Van Noy’s career was revitalized after being traded to the New England Patriots. Here is a recap of the performance for each former BYU player.
Ziggy Ansah (DE), Lions:
Ansah earned a trip to the Pro Bowl following the 2015 season and built up plenty of hype for the 2016 season. After being hampered by injuries, Ansah’s production fell by the wayside early in the season as he missed three games. Toward the end of the season, there was an uptick in his production as he picked up sacks in two of his last three games. The Lions will travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Saturday at 6:15 pm. The Lions last faced the Seahawks in Week 4 of the 2015 season where Ansah recorded 2 sacks.
Ansah: 35 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 stuffs
Robertson Daniel (DB), Ravens:
Robertson Daniel spent the 2016 season as a journeyman. He began the season with the Green Bay Packers but was released during final rosters cuts on September 3. He was then signed to the team’s practice squad on September 22, but released on September 27. A week later on October 3, the Washington Redskins signed Daniel to their practice squad but was then released on October 11. He was then signed by the Ravens as a practice squad member on October 13 and then saw a promotion to the active roster on October 22 and appeared in one game. On November 5, he was then added once again to the practice roster and signed a futures/reserve on January 4. Daniel did not record any stats for the 2016 season.
John Denney (LS), Dolphins:
Denney is the longest tenured player on the Dolphins roster after signing with them in 2005. Denney has the second longest streak of consecutive starts among active players with 176 at the conclusion of the 2016 season. On October 28, Denney was named as a captain for the Dolphins replacing Reshad Jones.
Alani Fua (LB), Cardinals:
Fua appeared in the first three games of the season before being placed on the injured reserve with a knee injury on September 28. He had one assisted tackle. In 2015, he saw times on defense and special teams, appearing in 16 games he totaled seven tackles on the season.
Fua: 1 assisted tackle
Bronson Kaufusi (DE), Ravens:
Kaufusi was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Ravens. He impressed coaches during OTA and fall camp before fracturing an ankle on August 4 which placed him on the injured reserve for the season. Kaufusi has said that he plans to be ready for the 2017 NFL season.
Paul Lasike (FB), Bears:
Lasike spent the entire 2016 season with the Bears but was juggled between the active roster and travel squad. He was initially released on September 20 and was resigned to the practice squad two days later and was again added to the active roster on October 5. The Bears then released Lasike on October 20 and added him to their practice squad the next day. He was finally promoted to the active roster again on November 12. Lasike appeared in 10 games for the Bears primarily as a blocking back and on special teams.
Lasike: 3 rushes for 8 yards, 1 reception for 3 yards
Jordan Leslie (WR), Browns:
Leslie began the season with the Atlanta Falcons appearing in two games where he recorded three catches for 48 yards. The Falcons waived Leslie on August 27. On September 27, the Tennessee Titans signed Leslie and later cut him on October 3. On October 18, Leslie was signed by the Browns to their practice squad.
Dennis Pitta (TE), Ravens:
Pitta returned to play in the 2016 season after missing the majority of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with a dislocated hip and missed the entire 2015 season after doctors informed him it wouldn’t be safe to return to play. Pitta set records for the Ravens in season total for catches for a tight end with 86 and also tied a single game record in receptions in the season finale against the Bengals with 11.
Pitta: 86 receptions for 729 yards and 2 TDs
Daniel Sorensen (DB), Chiefs:
Sorensen became a major part of the Chiefs defense during the 2016 season and came up with several big plays to help them to a 12-4 record. Sorensen was an undrafted free agent in the 2014 season and was signed for his prowess as a special teams player but earned playing time in a talented secondary for the Chiefs. Sorensen had a career high 63 tackles and 3 interceptions for the Chiefs in 2016 and also recorded his first career TD, returning a Drew Brees interception 49 yards.
Sorensen: 63 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FF, 3 FR, 3 INT, 1 TD, 6 pass deflection
Uani ‘Unga (LB), Giants:
‘Unga didn’t see time with in the NFL for the 2016 season as he was nursing an injury he suffered in the offseason. He was initially waived for injury reasons, but after clearing waivers was added to the teams injured reserve where he has since remained.
Kyle Van Noy (LB), Patriots:
Kyle Van Noy entered his third NFL season with high hopes. Initially starting the season with the Lions, he was named a starter in their 4-3 defense. With the Lions, he recorded 23 tackles and one pass deflection in seven games. Van Noy was traded to the Patriots on October 25 and spent the first two games on the Patriots roster as an inactive. He returned to play on November 20 recording three tackles and a sack. Van Noy recorded his first career interception against Jared Goff and the Rams on December 4. He played seven games with the Patriots and recorded two starts. Van Noy and the Patriots have a bye for the Wild Card round of the playoffs and will play the lowest seed in the divisional round.
Kyle Van Noy: 52 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT, 3 pass deflection
De’Ondre Wesley (OL), Ravens:
De’Ondre Wesley spent the 2016 season on the Ravens injured reserve after the club placed him there on September 3. During the 2015 season, he appeared in seven games as a rookie.