Players with El Paso Ties Experience the NFL Playoffs
If you flipped on the NFL Playoffs this weekend, you might've caught some names with local ties to El Paso.
Former Miners and graduates from the Sun City received an opportunity to suit out for the NFL Playoffs this year. There are several former UTEP players that are routine players in the league, including cornerback Nik Needham (Dolphins) and left guard Will Hernandez (Giants), whose respective franchises missed the postseason this year.
Most notably from over the weekend was Del Valle and Colorado alum Steven Montez nearly having an opportunity to log his first minutes in the NFL. Washington starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke went into the locker room with a shoulder injury and the team announced they would roll with Montez on the ensuing drive. Instead, Heinicke surprisingly ran back onto the field before the next offensive series and continued at quarterback for the team. Montez would have played his first ever snap in the NFL during a crunch time playoff game scenario.
Though he didn't throw a pass in a game this year, Montez moved up the practice squad ranks in Washington and was promoted to the active roster since Week 15. The Del Valle alum will have an opportunity to compete for a reserve quarterback job for Washington over the offseason.
Since 2015, former UTEP tight end Eric Tomlinson has bounced around eight different times to new organizations. He started on the Philadelphia practice squad, then had stints with the Texans, Jets, Giants Patriots and Raiders over a five-year period. The Giants signed him back at the start of the offseason from the Raiders, where he spent almost six months with the team. In late November, Tomlinson was picked up by the Ravens from the Giants' practice squad. He was active from weeks 13 through 16 and started in the Ravens' playoff game on Sunday against the Titans, primarily serving as a blocking tight end.
Though Roy Robertson-Harris' season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, he was a part of the Bears playoff push this year. Robertson-Harris first was signed to the Bears as an undrafted free agent after graduating from UTEP. He played in 53 games with 13 starts for Chicago, recording 75 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, nine tackles-for-loss, six pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could be seeking a new home.
And of course, at home watching the Wild Card Round as his team clinched the top seed overall in the NFC is Aaron Jones. UTEP's all-time leading rusher registered his second consecutive 1,000-plus rushing season this year (1,104), along with nine rushing touchdowns. He and the Packers will host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at Lambeau Field.