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HUSKIES PRODUCE MORE BIG PLAYS IN WEEK THREE OF NFL PRESEASON

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The NFL preseason capped off its third week this weekend with several former Huskies making good impressions before Friday's final roster cutdown.

QB Chandler Harnish - Indianapolis Colts
Harnish played the entire second half Saturday afternoon in the Indianapolis Colts' 30-17 loss against the Washington Redskins, finishing the day 12-of-19 passing for 147 yards. Among the 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award recipient's highlights were a 59-yard completion to Jeremy Ross that set up one touchdown, along with directing a second scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. Through three games, Harnish is 18-of-31 passing for 244 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

LB Larry English - San Diego Chargers
English recorded his best game yet of the 2012 preseason, posting two sacks along with two additional tackles in the San Diego Chargers' 12-10 win against the Minnesota Vikings. With Minnesota driving inside Charger territory late in the first quarter, English got into the backfield and sacked Christian Ponder for a 10-yard loss to knock the Vikings out of field goal territory. His next sack of Ponder came with less than two minutes left in the first half and Minnesota with a first and goal at the 10-yard line. The six-yard loss eventually resulted in the Vikings settling for a field goal.

RB Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Turner played a big part in the Atlanta Falcons' 23-6 win against the Miami Dolphins Friday, posting 10 carries for 35 yards and three catches for 36 yards. His two biggest plays came on receptions, as a 20-yard reception helped set up Atlanta's first points of the game, while a 11-yard catch in the second quarter resulted in another field goal that proved to be the deciding points of the game.

OL Doug Free - Dallas Cowboys
Free started on the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys in their 20-19 win against the St. Louis Rams. The former NIU lineman helped pave the way for a resurgent Cowboy offense, as all 20 of the team's points came in the first half.

DB Tracy Wilson - Tennessee Titans
Wilson got playing time on defense and special teams in Tennessee's 32-27 win against Arizona, recording two tackles in the fourth quarter.

WR Nathan Palmer - San Francisco 49ers
Palmer got on the field in the San Francisco 49ers' 29-24 win against the Denver Broncos. Yet, he did not record any stats.

C Scott Wedige - Arizona Cardinals
Wedige got in on special teams during the Cardinals' 32-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans. However, he did not record any stats on the evening.

LB Pat Schiller - Atlanta Falcons
Schiller got on the field for a handful of plays in the Atlanta Falcons' 23-6 win against the Miami Dolphins. The former Huskie, though, did not record any stats.

WR Landon Cox - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cox saw playing time on offense and on special teams in Tampa Bay's 30-28 win against the New England Patriots Friday, but did not get any passes thrown his way.

NOTE: Fullback Cameron Bell was released Monday by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of roster reductions. Teams were required to have a 75-man active roster by Monday at 3 p.m. CT

The final week of the preseason will feature one nationally-televised game with an NIU alum, as Scott Wedige looks to secure a roster spot Thursday night when the Arizona Cardinals host the Denver Broncos at 10 p.m. on NFL Network.

For the full Week Four schedule, click here.
The NFL preseason continued this weekend with week two. Now that we are halfway through the four-week preseason, here is a breakdown of how all the former Huskies have fared through two weeks.

QB Chandler Harnish - Indianapolis Colts
After an impressive first week, Harnish fell back to Earth Sunday night in Pittsburgh, going 3-for-9 for 45 yards and an interception in the Indianapolis Colts' 26-24 loss against the Steelers. The former Huskie led a long Colt drive in the fourth quarter, hitting tight end Griff Whalen for completions of 27 and 22 yards to get to the Pittsburgh 31 before an interception ended the drive.

WR Nathan Palmer - San Francisco 49ers
Palmer saw extended playing time in the San Francisco 49ers' 20-9 loss at the Houston Texans, but did not record any receptions. He was targeted twice by quarterback Scott Tolzien in the fourth quarter, but was unable to haul either in.

LB Larry English - San Diego Chargers
English posted two solo tackles Saturday night in the San Diego Chargers' 28-20 victory against the Dallas Cowboys. The first came late in the third quarter, while the second happened on Dallas' opening drive in the fourth quarter.

RB Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Turner was limited on the ground, netting -3 yards on three carries. However, the former NFL rushing champ caught three passes for 14 yards in the Falcons' 24-19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Turner's longest gain was eight yards on a screen pass from Matt Ryan in the first quarter.

OL Doug Free - Dallas Cowboys
Free started on the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys for the second consecutive game Saturday night, as Dallas dropped a 28-20 decision against the San Diego Chargers. Free helped the Cowboys get a first quarter field goal before exiting the game.

C Scott Wedige - Arizona Cardinals
Wedige got more playing time at center Friday night in the Arizona Cardinals' 31-27 win against the Oakland Raiders. The former NIU All-American has played in all three games for Arizona as he pushes for a roster spot in the desert.

LB Pat Schiller - Atlanta Falcons
Schiller got a long look at linebacker Thursday in Atlanta's 24-19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but did not record any stats in the game. However, last year's starting middle linebacker at NIU had a hand in several big stops.

WR Landon Cox - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cox saw playing time in Tampa Bay's 30-7 loss against the Tennessee Titans Friday. However, he did not record any stats.

DB Tracy Wilson - Tennessee Titans
Wilson got on the field for the Titans in their 30-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but did not post any statistics.

FB Cameron Bell- San Francisco 49ers
Bell did not play in San Francisco's 20-9 loss at the Houston Texans.

NOTE: Wide receiver Britt Davis was released by the New England Patriots Tuesday after injuring his shoulder late in the week one win over the New Orleans Saints. Per NFL injury settlement rules, Davis can return to New England after week six if he is not signed by any other team.

Three games in week three will feature former Huskies. It begins Thursday night on ESPN when the Arizona Cardinals (Scott Wedige) take on the Tennessee Titans (Tracy Wilson) in Nashville at 7 p.m. CT. Meanwhile, Chandler Harnish and the Indianapolis Colts battle the Washington Redskins Saturday at 3 p.m. on NFL Network. Lastly, Nathan Palmer and Cameron Bell both continue their push from undrafted to final 53 Sunday at 3 p.m. on Fox when they travel to face the Denver Broncos.

For the full Week Three schedule, click here.

BIG PLAYS HIGHLIGHT FIRST WEEK OF NFL PRESEASON FOR NIU ALUMS

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The first full week of the NFL preseason is in the books, so here is a quick recap of how the former Huskies did over the weekend.

QB Chandler Harnish - Indianapolis Colts
Harnish went 3-for-3 passing for 52 yards and a touchdown, while playing the entire fourth quarter under center in the Colts' 38-3 win over the St. Louis Rams. With a first and 10 at the St. Louis 33-yard line, the 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner lofted a pass down the left sideline to Jeremy Ross to help put Indianapolis up 35-3. To watch the video of that touchdown pass, click here.

WR Nathan Palmer - San Francisco 49ers
Palmer continued his impressive training camp in San Francisco with three receptions for 21 yards as the 49ers topped the Minnesota Vikings, 17-6. His first catch of the night - a five-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick - helped set up a San Francisco field goal early in the third quarter. Later on, Palmer's receptions of 13 and three yards helped get the 49ers inside the redzone before a turnover ended the drive.

WR Britt Davis - New England Patriots
Davis caught a three-yard touchdown pass Thursday in what proved to be the winning points in New England's 7-6 win against the New Orleans Saints. On a first and goal, Davis found an opening in the Saints' defense and hauled in a strike from Brian Hoyer for the score. To see the highlight, click here

LB Larry English - San Diego Chargers
English had a great performance Thursday night, as he recorded a sack and a QB hurry in San Diego's 21-13 win against the Green Bay Packers. The former Huskie defensive end came around the corner late in the second quarter and sacked Graham Harrell for a four-yard loss. However, a penalty on San Diego during the play erased the yardage lost.

RB Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Turner ran the ball five times for 17 yards in limited action during Atlanta's 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The former Huskies gained nine yards on three carries in the Falcons' opening drive, which ended on a touchdown. Turner recorded two more carries of two and six yards, respectively, before giving way to the second-team offense.

OL Doug Free - Dallas Cowboys
Free started on the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys Monday night in their hard-fought 3-0 victory against the Oakland Raiders.

C Scott Wedige - Arizona Cardinals
Wedige has seen extensive playing time in both of the Cardinals preseason games this year at center. Arizona has dropped both of their games so far, losing to the New Orleans
Saints, 17-10, in the Hall of Fame Game and on Friday to the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-17.

LB Pat Schiller - Atlanta Falcons
Schiller recorded two solo tackles Thursday in Atlanta's 31-17 loss against the Baltimore Ravens. His first stop came early in the third quarter when he stuffed Ben Rainey for a three-yard pickup, while his second tackle stopped Damien Berry for two yards late in the third quarter.

FB Cameron Bell- San Francisco 49ers
Bell saw action in San Francisco's 17-6 win against the Minnesota Vikings, but did not record any stats.

WR Landon Cox - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cox saw playing time in Tampa Bay's 20-7 win against the Miami Dolphins Friday. However, he did not record any receptions.

DB Tracy Wilson - Tennessee Titans
After being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, Wilson signed Wednesday with the Titans and did not see any action in Tennessee's 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Six former Huskies will be featured on national TV this week. Michael Turner and Pat Schiller play Thursday on Fox when the Atlanta Falcons host the Cincinnati Bengals at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, you can catch Chandler Harnish on NBC's Sunday Night Football when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7 p.m.. Additionally, the Dallas Cowboys (Doug Free) and San Diego Chargers (Larry English) face off Saturday at 8 p.m., while Britt Davis takes the field Monday night for the New England Patriots' ESPN contest with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

For the full Week Two schedule, click here.

DOZEN FORMER HUSKIES TAKING PART IN NFL TRAINING CAMPS

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Wedige_Cardinals.JPGNFL training camps are now in full gear, which means that football season is just around the corner. This year, 12 former Huskies are in training camps, including five from last season's MAC Championship squad.

QB Chandler Harnish (Indianapolis), WR Nathan Palmer (San Francisco), C Scott Wedige (Arizona), LB Pat Schiller (Atlanta) and FB Cameron Bell (San Francisco) will try to join RB Michael Turner (Atlanta), WR Britt Davis (New England), LB Larry English (San Diego), OT Doug Free (Dallas), CB Chris Smith (St. Louis) and CB Tracy Wilson (New York Jets) as Huskies in the NFL. Meanwhile, WR Landon Cox will also get an opportunity to catch on in the league, as he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week.

Huskie fans will also get to see a familiar face on the field in the first preseason game of the year Sunday night, as Wedige and the Arizona Cardinals take on the New Orleans Saints in the NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. CT on NFL Network. Fans can also follow the action live on NFL.com. The contest will also feature 2012 Hall of Fame inductees Jack Butler, Dermotti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf, all of whom will be formally inducted the night before.

For the full NFL preseason schedule to see when the other NIU alums are in action, click here.

NFL DRAFT A WEEK AWAY

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Chandler Harnish passing.jpgThe NFL Draft is now a week away and the publicity for former NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is picking up. Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com posted this story on the NFL hopeful yesterday in his Bears Report blog. Dennis Dillon of SI.com filed this excellent article on Harnish today. 

Wedige-Scott-UW.jpg
Another former Huskie with NFL aspirations, Scott Wedige, received some pub over the weekend. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, who has been breaking down the NFL Draft by position and previewed the centers on Sunday. Wedige was rated at No. 7 of the 14 centers listed and the last to receive a write up.

TWO WEEKS TO THE DRAFT

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Harnish-Shrine.jpgThe the 2012 NFL Draft two weeks away Huskie fans are starved for information on Northern Illinois' NFL hopefuls. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune broke down his top quarterback prospects in today's Trib and NIU's Chandler Harnish came in at No. 14. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted this write up on Harnish in its Packer Blog. Former NFL executive Gil Brandt broke down NIU's Pro Day for the NFL.com's Pro Day Blog. He singled out the performances of Harnish, Scott Wedige and Nathan Palmer.












ALL-STAR WEEKEND RECAP

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Harnish-Shrine.jpgFive Northern Illinois University football players, Chandler Harnish, Scott Wedige, Trevor Olson and linebackers Jordan Delegal and Pat Schiller, played one last college game over the weekend as the quintet participated in three different all-star games this past weekend.  

Harnish was voted team captain and started for the West team in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Saturday. The 2011 Vern Smith Award winner threw for 52 yards on 8-of-14 passing, while rushing for nine yards on five carries including a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The West team won the contest, 24-17. Harnish received praise from a few NFL scouts in attendance for his arm strength and leadership skills. Many feel he is worth a draft pick.
 
As Harnish's game was winding down, another was getting started. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl featured a trio of Huskies as Wedige and Schiller were members of the American squad, while Olson suited up for the National team. Olson has bragging rights over his two former teammates as the National team won, 20-14.

Delegal, who arguably had the best day of all the Huskies, took part in the Battle of Florida. A member of the victorious North squad coached by Florida State legend Bobby Bowden, Delegal had seven tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a 29-yard interception return. The North won the contest in dominating fashion, 51-3.

HUSKIE ALL STARS

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All-Star Game Picture.jpgFive Huskies have one more college game to play as quarterback Chandler Harnish, center Scott Wedige, tackle Trevor Olson and linebackers Pat Schiller and Jordan Delegal are participating in three college all-star games Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012.

Harnish was named team captain and will start for the West team of the East-West Shrine Game. The game, which will be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., will be televised by the NFL Network. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT. Harnish, the 2011 recipient of the Vern Smith Leadership Award, earned Most Valuable Player honors in NIU's 38-20 victory over Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Here's a feature on NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel.

A trio of Huskies, Olson, Schiller and Wedige, will be playing in the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. Wedige and Schiller will be teammates for at least one more game as they will be playing for the American team, while Olson will be playing for the National squad. The game will be played at the Home Depot Center in Southern California and will kick off at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised by NBC Sports Network.

Delegal, a native of Miami, Fla., is playing for the North team in the Battle of Florida. The game, which will be kickoff at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised live by Fox College Sports. The game features players that are draft eligible and have either been born in Florida or have played high school or college football in Florida. Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden will coach the North.

All-Star Game Line Up
East-West Shrine, 3 p.m. CT, NFL Network

AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, 5 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus)

The Battle of Florida, 7 p.m. CT., Fox College Sports

PHIL STEELE'S ALL-MAC TEAM ANNOUNCED

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Pat Schiller Blitzes for a sack.jpgThe Northern Illinois University football team saw 12 Huskies named to Phil Steele's 2011 Postseason All-MAC Team. NIU had four first teamers, three on offense and one special teams. 2011 Vern Smith Award winner Chandler Harnish, center Scott Wedige, left tackle Trevor Olson and kick returner Tommylee Lewis earned first team honors.

Running back Jasmin Hopkins, defensive linemen Sean Progar and Ron Newcomb, linebacker Pat Schiller and kicker Mathew Sims were all second-team honorees. Northern Illinois also had three third-team selections; wide receiver Nathan Palmer, offensive lineman Joe Pawlak and defensive back Jimmie Ward.

NIU had nine All-MAC selections as voted on by the league's coaches. Eight of the 12 Huskies on Phil Steele's All-MAC team garnered accolades from league coaches. Lewis, Newcomb, Pawlak and Schiller were earning All-MAC honors for the first time this season.

WEDIGE HONORED

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KU-Line of Scrimmage.jpgVarious organizations and media outlets are starting to release their All-America teams. As expected, most of them are littered with big names from big schools. CBSSports.com thought pretty highly of NIU's Scott Wedige, naming the senior center second-team All-American. Wedige is the only Mid-American Conference player on either first or second team. The CBSSports.com All-America Teams were selected by the staff, writers and bloggers.

Wedige is the first Huskie to be named to an All-America team since Larry English in 2008. English was a third team selection by Phil Steele and an honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly.

QUARTERBACK OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE

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Wedige-Scott-UW.jpgWisconsin native Scott Wedige has flourished the last two seasons since taking over as the starting center for the Huskies at the beginning of the last season. After serving as a back up his first two years at NIU, Wedige has become a leader on the NIU offense. As Scott Powers writes in this feature story posted late Friday, Wedige is also a solid NFL prospect.

A PAIR OF PREVIEWS

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Wedige-Scott.jpgJay Taft of the Rockford Register Star posted this story on how NIU has to overcome its disappointing loss to Kansas to face Wisconsin of Saturday at Soldier Field. Rick Armstrong of the Beacon News talks about the many NIU-Wisconsin story lines including center and Wisconsin-native Scott Wedige in his preview story.

CATCHING UP ON NIU FOOTBALL

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NIU Football Team Running Out.jpgThere have been a plethora of stories the last few days in the area newspapers featuring the NIU football team. Below, you'll find links to all the stories in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Beacon News and Rockford Register Star.

Chicago Tribune
Army Preview

Chandler Harnish Feature

Daily Herald
Scott Wedige on NIU's Desire to Win a MAC Championship

Huskie Running Game Feature

Sun-Times
How the Huskies Will Handle the Triple Option

Coach Doeren, a Big Boxing Fan, Lists his Favorite Fighters

Beacon News
A Trio of Geneva H.S. Alumns on the NIU Roster

Register Star
Rashaan Melvin Feature

HIGH PRAISE FOR WEDIGE

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Wedige-Scott-2010-001.jpgWhile NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish gets much of the pub, one member of the Huskies offense is quietly garnering a lot of respect nationally. Center Scott Wedige, who is on the watch lists for the Remington Award and Lombardi Trophy, is considered a top 10 interior linemen by Rivals.com and a top five center on the list. In its preseason college football preseason magazine, the Sporting News listed Wedige as the top NFL prospect in the Mid-American Conference.

ANOTHER ACCOLADE FOR WEDIGE

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Wedige-Scott-2010-001.jpgNorthern Illinois University center Scott Wedige was named to Andrea Adelson's Non-AQ Preseason Team. Wedige is entering his second season as the starting center for the Huskies. He is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List and is a preseason all-MAC by five publications.

DYNAMIC DUO

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Pawlak-Wedige.jpgMike Huguenin of Rivals.com highlights the best offensive duos at running back, wide receiver at tackle and in the interior of the line. A pair of Huskies made the list. Center Scott Wedige and guard Joe Pawlak were tabbed as the best interior linemen in the Mid-American Conference. Wedige, who is currently on the Rimington Award Watch List, started all 14 games for the Huskies in 2010, his first as a starter, while Pawlak will be starting at guard for the third-straight season for NIU this year.

The duo was part of the top offensive line in the MAC. The Huskie front five allowed 13 sacks last season, the fewest in the MAC and paved the way for the league's No. 1 rushing attack and scoring offense. They also cleared the way for 2010 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, running back Chad Spann.

ONE MORE ACCOLADE FOR HUSKIE FOOTBALL

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Wedige-Scott.jpgCongratulations to Northern Illinois junior center Scott Wedige, who was named to Rivals.com 2010 All-Bowl Team.  

Wedige's performance on the inside against Fresno State defensive tackle Logan Harrell, among others, was key to the Huskies' gaining 503 yards of total offense in a dominating 40-17 victory over the Bulldogs in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl.   The article also recognizes the job done by NIU offensive tackle Trevor Olson, who held Fresno State defensive end Chris Carter, the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, without a tackle.  Harrell and Carter combined for 30.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks before getting handled by the Huskies.

The great news for Huskie fans: Wedige, Olson and fellow offensive line starters Joe Pawlak, Logan Pegram and Keith Otis all return in 2011.  

Of course, we think quarterback Chandler Harnish's 300-yard passing performance (on 17-of-26 passing) and 72 yards rushing (on 10 carries) should have earned him a nod on the All-Bowl Team over Stanford's Andrew Luck!  Harnish accounted for three TDs (two rushing, one passing) to pick up MVP honors.