Each week the Illini in the NFL update will provide coverage on how former Fighting Illini football players fared during the previous weeks. The 2013 NFL season started over the weekend with 24 former Illini on NFL rosters. Whitney Mercilus had five tackles and sack to help the Texans to a Monday night win over San Diego, while Akeem Spence, Hugh Thornton and Michael Buchanan all made their professional debuts.
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Houston Texans - Mercilus registered a career high 5 tackles and a sack on Monday Night Football in a thrilling 31-28 last second win over the Chargers. Watch Mercilus sack of Phillip Rivers
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals - In his debut with the Cardinals, Mendenhall rushed for 60 yards on 16 carries for an average of 3.8 and a long of 11 yards. In addition, Mendenhall was in the backfield for 35 of the Cardinals 71 offensive snaps during Arizona's 27-24 loss to St. Louis. Mendenhall also caught one pass for four yards.
Thursday was move-in day for thousands of University of Illinois students, but the Illini football team continued to prepare for its season-opener against Southern Illinois. With only nine days until kickoff, Illinois has fully moved into game-week style practices, fine-tuning its game plan for the Salukis.
Illinois moved to the grass practice fields on the east side of Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, as temperatures rose to the mid-80s. The team continued to install and fine-tune the Southern Illinois game plan in a workout that lasted nearly two hours.
After eight days in Rantoul, the Illini returned to Champaign Tuesday for the remainder of training camp. They conducted a final set of special teams and position meetings at Camp Rantoul before busing back to campus and treating the day's practice as an 11 a.m. game.