This past week had ups and downs for past UConn players. One guy came back from injury while another got hurt and may end up on the bench for good if he does not shape up his on-field performance. Finally, a rookie earned an opportunity to make a team's practice squad. Week 11, overall, had a whirlwind of activity for the Huskies - let's check in on three notable stories.
A breakout Husky star this week was Texans tight end Ryan Griffin, who has spent much of the past year on the injury list. With Brian Hoyer and TJ Yates at the helm, Griffin had a great performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, grabbing three passes for 36 yards. The Texans have consistently been a team that utilizes multiple tight ends, and Griffin has stuck on the roster for years as a second or third option at the position. As a matter of fact, he is one of only two players that is still remaining from Houston's 2013 NFL Draft class - the other being first round pick DeAndre Hopkins.
Griffin has, like many Huskies, paid his dues for years in the NFL, getting reps on special teams and as a blocker before incumbent Owen Daniels moved on from Reliant Stadium. Now, with quarterbacks who have BB gun arms behind center and a mediocre offensive line in front of them, Griffin could begin to assert himself as a key security blanket. Hopefully, as the Texans somehow remain in the thick of the AFC South divisional race, Griffin begins to assert himself in November and December.
On the other hand, Blidi Wreh-Wilson got hurt this past week and will not play in the foreseeable future. Wreh-Wilson has had some major issues in his transition from UConn, as his athletic ability has never really come to bear on the football field. Blidi tends to do fine in jump ball situations, but injuries have sapped some of the speed that he had when he was a Husky. Receivers constantly seem to get deep separation against him, and he does not have the second gear to keep up with them.
The more I watch Wreh-Wilson, the more he reminds me of Logan Ryan, the Patriots' boundary cornerback and ex-Rutgers Scarlet Knight who has taken a step up this season. Ryan, like Wilson, is slower than most of the players he faces. However, by utilizing the sideline intelligently and playing physical coverage, he has been able to mask those issues for the most part. Wilson's best moment in either college or the pros was arguably the play in overtime against Louisville where he outfought his man and intercepted Teddy Bridgewater in the end zone en route to a win. Wilson needs to get some of the physicality back - if he does, maybe he can still salvage his career once he returns to the field, healthy.
Finally, congratulations to BJ McBryde, who signed onto the Green Bay Packers' practice squad this past week. McBryde was one of trainer Matt Balis' most prized physical specimens, but his athleticism rarely was seen on the field. However, after broad jumping 10 feet 3 inches at 6 foot 5, 305 pounds, McBryde earned some NFL looks. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason, but was teamless for a while. Now, he will play in Lambeau.
McBryde has some great role models in Green Bay - Mike Neal and Mike Daniels both function as top-notch pass rushing defensive tackles and are carved out of a similar mold as McBryde. Hopefully, they can tutor him as he hones his craft and tries to make a home for himself in Dom Capers' intricate defense.