KNOXVILLE -- Seventeen former Vols are participating in the 2012 NFL Playoffs which get underway on Saturday. Here's a look at the UT products in the postseason.
Houston hosts Cincinnati in the opening game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., on NBC. Pro Bowler Arian Foster finished as the NFL's fifth-leading rusher in the regular-season with 1,224 yards for the Texans. He is joined by defensive back Jason Allen, who made 45 tackles and had four interceptions this season for Houston. With the Bengals, Gibril Wilson made 33 tackles in the secondary and on special teams along with a forced fumble.
The second game on Saturday, pits Detroit at New Orleans at 8 p.m., on NBC. The Saints feature four former Vols, the most of any team in the NFL. Receiver Robert Meachem made 40 catches for 620 yards with six touchdowns in the regular-season. Cornerback Jabari Greer racked up 72 tackles along with an interception. Also on defense, Aubrayo Franklin had 17 tackles from his defensive tackle position. Turk McBride has been hindered by injury and had four tackles with two sacks this season.
On Sunday, the Giants host Atlanta at 1 p.m., on FOX. Deon Grant posted 64 tackles with a sack and an interception for New York.
The final opening-round game will see Denver host Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m., on CBS. The Broncos feature defensive end Robert Ayers, who had 39 tackles with three sacks in 2011. Punter Britton Colquitt booted 101 punts for a 47.4 average with 33 punts inside the 20-yard line. He led the NFL in punting yards (4,783) and was second in punts inside the 20 and total punts (101). He is an alternate for the Pro Bowl. With the Steelers, Ramon Foster started 14 games at right guard this year.
The four teams with first-round byes all feature former Vols.
AFC No. 1 seed New England has a pair of former Vols in linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive end Shaun Ellis. Mayo racked up 95 tackles and had two key interceptions for the Pats as part of six passes defended. In his first season with New England Ellis had 14 tackles and a sack.
The Baltimore Ravens, have Morgan Cox as their long snapper, who has snapped in all 16 games on kicks and punts.
The top seed in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers feature two Vols on the offensive line in Pro Bowl center Scott Wells, who started all 16 games snapping the ball to Pro Bowler Aaron Rodgers. Chad Clifton returned from a hamstring injury for the regular-season finale and is expected to start in the postseason at his normal left tackle spot after playing six games in 2011.
The No. 2 seed in the NFC is San Francisco, which includes Parys Haralson, who had 30 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles as the 49ers starting outside linebacker in all 16 games.
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)