A Few Jacks Standing

There was a lot of excitment within the South Dakota State football program this summer when four of its seniors--DB Cole Brodie, TE Colin Cochart, LB Derek Domino and C Ryan McKnight--signed free agent deals with NFL teams following the lockout. Unfortunately, that excitement has been tempered by a certain degree of disappointment.

McKnight (Bengals) and Brodie (Jaguars) were waived before their teams' first preseason game, a move that suggests that they struggled to get up to speed. Meanwhile, an injured finger contributed to Domino's early exit from Broncos camp. He was released on Monday.

That leaves Cochart, one of the top tight ends in Jackrabbit history, as the class of 2011's last man standing. Cochart did not have a catch in the Bengals' 34-3 loss to the Lions last Saturday, though he was targeted once. Currently No. 5 on Cincinnati's depth chart, Cochart did manage to outlast veteran TE Garrett Mills who was released today.

Batten, Bender, Johnson Still Fighting

A couple of other former Jackrabbits may have a better chance of sticking with their current NFL teams this season. Danny Batten is battling in Bills camp after missing his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. Batten, whom Buffalo took in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, is currently listed No. 3 at  jack linebacker--a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker-- in the Bills' 3-4 defense.

Batten's former teammate, Chris Johnson, is competing for a linebacker spot in Bears camp. Johnson spent most of last season on Chicago's practice squad and is currently No. 4 at middle linebacker. According to another former SDSU teammate,  Johnson's motor and work ethic are impressing coaches. He could earn a spot with solid play on special teams.

Casey Bender is hoping to help protect a large investment in Indianapolis. Bender is vying for a backup spot on Peyton Manning's offensive line. He's currently No. 3 on Indy's depth chart at right tackle.

{Author's Note: Thanks to @hartleyshuddle for pointing out my initial omission of Casey Bender.}


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