Each week the Illini in the NFL update will provide coverage on how former Fighting Illini football players fared during the previous weeks. Vontae Davis had two clutch interceptions to help the Colts to a Week 17 win over the Texans. In all, seven former Illini are headed to the playoffs, which begin this weekend with the Wildcard round.
Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts - Davis produced two huge interceptions for the playoff bound Colts and had a total of 26 return yards. Davis also recorded five tackles and a season high three passes defended. He finished the season with 51 tackles, one sack, eight passes defended and three interceptions in 10 games. All three interceptions came in the last two games. The Colts finished 11-5 and will face Baltimore in Sunday's Wildcard round. Watch Davis' First INT | Watch His Second INT
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions - Leshoure tallied 57 rushing yards on 15 carries along with three receptions for 20 yards in the Lions 26-24 loss to the Bears. Leshoure finished his first season with 798 rushing yards (3.7 ypc), 214 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, New England Patriots - Lloyd caught one pass, on five targets, for nine yards in the Patriots 28-0 win over the Dolphins. Lloyd finished the regular season with 74 receptions for 911 yards and four touchdowns as New England heads to the playoffs as the #2 seed in the AFC.
Corey Liuget, DE, San Diego Chargers - Liuget recorded three tackles in the Chargers 24-21 win over the Raiders. Liuget finishes his sophomore season with 51 tackles, seven sacks, nine passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers - Mendenhall ran for 19 yard on six carries and had two receptions for one yard in Pittsburgh's 24-10 week 17 win against the Browns. After having ACL surgery in January and subsequent Achilles' and hip injuries during the season, Mendenhall played in just six games in 2012 and finished the year with 182 yards on 51 attempts (3.6 YPC). He also caught nine passes for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Tavon Wilson, FS, New England Patriots - Wilson notched three tackles in the Patriots 28-0 blowout win over the Dolphins. Wilson concludes regular season play with 41 tackles, six passes defended, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries while playing in all 16 games (4 starts). The rookie will embark in his first NFL post-season play as the Patriots earned the #2 seed in the AFC.
Jeff Cumberland, TE, New York Jets - Cumberland reeled in three receptions, on six targets, for 36 yards, including a long of 18 in the Jets' season-ending loss to Buffalo. Cumberland made 12 starts on the season and finished the year with 29 catches for 359 total yards and three touchdowns.
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Houston Texans - Mercilus tallied one tackle in the regular season finale as the Texans lost 28-16 to the Colts. The rookie finished the regular season with 25 tackles, six sacks (tied Texas rookie record), one pass defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery while playing in all 16 games and making four starts. Mercilus and the AFC South Champs will play the Bengals next week in the Wildcard round.
Brandon Moore, OG, New York Jets - Starting in every game this season, Moore made his 137th consecutive career start this past Sunday as the Jets lost 28-9 to the Bills. Moore and the offensive-line spearheaded the ground game to 133 net yards while only allowing one sack. More has started every games for the Jets for the past eight seasons.
Steve Weatherford, P, New York Giants - Weatherford punted twice for a 49.0 average, including a long of 53, in week 17. Both punts pinned the Eagles down inside their own 20 as the Giants won 42-7. Weatherford ends his year with 58 punts and posted career-bests in both average (47.5) and net average (39.4) while landing 22 punts inside the 20.
David Diehl, OT, New York Giants - Diehl played his 13th game of the season, ninth start, in Sunday's 42-7 win over the Eagles. Diehl and the O-line pushed the running game to 185 yards, while only surrendering one sack, but the defending Super Bowl champs missed the playoffs.
Kelvin Hayden, CB, Chicago Bears - Hayden recorded two tackles in the Bears 26-24 win over the Lions. Hayden concludes the year with 37 tackles, five passes defended, four fumble recoveries and one interception.
Jon Asamoah, OG, Kansas City Chiefs - Making his 15th start of the season, Asamoah and the rest of the offensive-line struggled against top team in the AFC, Denver, as the Chiefs lost 38-3 to close the season at 2-14.
Jeff Allen, OT, Kansas City Chiefs - Allen started in his 13th straight game of the season to end his rookie campaign. Chiefs lost 38-3 to the Denver Broncos.
Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, New England Patriots - Played but did not record a statistic in the Patriots 28-0 win over Miami. Hoomanawanui played in 14 games and made six starts on the season, finishing the regular season with five catches for 109 yards (21.8 ypc). He will begin his first career NFL playoff run next week as the Patriots earned the No. 2 seed.
Martez Wilson, LB, New Orleans Saints - Wilson played but did not get on the stat sheet in the Saints 44-38 loss to the Panthers. Wilson finished with 19 tackles, three sacks, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, one blocked kick and one blocked kick in 2012.
AJ Jenkins, WR, San Francisco 49ers - Played in his third game of the season in the 49ers 27-13 win over the Cardinals, but did not record any stats. Jenkins did not record a reception in his rookie season. The 49ers earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints - Thomas missed Sunday's finale against Carolina with an undisclosed knee injury. He finished the season with 473 rushing yards on 105 attempts (4.5 YPC), 354 receiving yards on 39 receptions and two total touchdowns in 15 games.
Alan Ball, CB, Houston Texans - Was once again inactive due to foot injury and remains questionable for the Texans Wild Card round matchup against the Bengals. In the regular season, Ball tallied 21 tackles, three passes defended and one forced fumble.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Did not play in week 17 due to injury. During and injury-plaqued 2012 season, been finished with four receptions for 26 yards, three rushes for 16 yards and 13 kick returns for a team-high 305 yards (23.5 ypr).
Former Illini on NFL Practice Squads
Jack Cornell, OL, Baltimore Ravens