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Ross Blacklock, LJ Collier named week one starters

The second year pro and rookie have both impressed in camp.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is nearly upon us, and when the season kicks off Thursday night, two former TCU defensive linemen will take the field as starters for their respective teams.

Ross Blacklock, chosen in the second round by the Houston Texans, earned the defensive tackle job over several veteran players, and will be lining up alongside JJ Watt for a team that is expected to be great in 2020. Impressive throughout camp, earning praise from defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver along the way. “Ross is a joy to coach, he comes to work every day with a mindset of getting better ... I couldn’t be more happy with how he’s progressing to this point.”

Collier dealt with injuries throughout his debut season after being selected in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. He recorded three tackles in 11 games, but was never fully himself — something that Pete Carroll and the team hopes will be different in 2020.

Listed at defensive end, Collier is expected to play on the interior as much or more as the end this fall, and with the Hawks keeping just three DTs on their 53 man roster, opportunities will be plentiful for the second year pro. Former Seattle QB Jake Heaps spoke on Collier’s role earlier this week. “They are putting an extreme amount of pressure on (defensive ends) Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier,” Heaps said. “L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green are going to be playing dual roles as five-technique defensive ends and also playing at the defensive tackle position.”

Blacklock will play in the NFL season opener Thursday evening when his Texans face the Kansas City Chiefs. Collier will have to wait until the weekend to play, when he and 19 other former Frogs see their professional seasons begin. Expect to see a lot of rookie Jeff Gladney early as well, as the Minnesota Vikings’ first round pick is one of the top players off of the bench for the team’s secondary.

More information of this year’s TCU talent in the NFL is provided courtesy of TCU Athletics:

TCU had a pair of first-round selections in wide receiver Jalen Reagor (Philadelphia Eagles) and cornerback Jeff Gladney (Minnesota Vikings). With defensive tackle Ross Blacklock (Houston Texans) going in the second round and offensive tackle Lucas Niang (Kansas City Chiefs) in the third round, TCU had three players selected in the first 40 picks and four in the top 96.

TCU’s five draft picks tied for the second-most (2016, 2011, 2009) under Head Coach Gary Patterson, trailing only the 2001 class which had six selections. Patterson has had 53 NFL Draft picks with 129 players in NFL camps. The Horned Frogs’ five draft picks in 2020 led the Big 12 and were the most by any program in the state of Texas. Additionally, five other players signed free-agent contracts.

Two-time consensus first-team All-American and Buffalo Bill Jerry Hughes, set to begin his 11th season, is the longest tenured Horned Frog in the NFL.

TCU Players on NFL Rosters

Darius Anderson*, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Ben Banogu, DE, Indianapolis Colts

Ross Blacklock, DT, Houston Texans

L.J. Collier, DE, Seattle Seahawks

Aviante Collins*, OT, Minnesota Vikings

Andy Dalton, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Jeff Gladney, CB, Minnesota Vikings

Travin Howard^, LB, Los Angeles Rams

Jerry Hughes, DE, Buffalo Bills

Joey Hunt*, C, Indianapolis Colts

Cordel Iwuagwu*, OG, Houston Texans

Patrick Morris*, C, Denver Broncos

Joe Noteboom, OL, Los Angeles Rams

Sewo Olonilua*, FB, Dallas Cowboys

Matt Pryor, OG/OT, Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Austin Schlottmann, OG/C, Denver Broncos

Vernon Scott, S, Green Bay Packers

Ty Summers, LB, Green Bay Packers

Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, Detroit Lions

Jason Verrett, CB, San Francisco 49ers

*Practice Squad