A look at the former Illini who will open the NFL season on 53-man rosters, courtesy staff writer MARCUS JACKSON
Jeff Allen, Chiefs
After a solid rookie campaign, the second-year pro is undisputed starter at left guard.
Jon Asamoah, Chiefs
Entering his fourth NFL campaign and third as a full-time starter, the right guard has allowed five sacks in his career.
Alan Ball, Jaguars
Entering his seventh season with his third NFL team (Cowboys, Texans), the cornerback is a starter for Shahid Khan’s franchise.
Michael Buchanan, Patriots
A backup defensive end, the rookie seventh-round pick will be used regularly in pass-rush situations.
Jeff Cumberland, Jets
After spending the bulk of his first three years in the NFL on special teams, the undrafted Cumberland has earned the job as the starting tight end.
Vontae Davis, Colts
After a trade from Miami last summer, Davis is emerging as a top-flight NFL corner entering his fifth season, which could end with a Pro Bowl selection.
David Diehl, Giants
His 11th NFL season will begin on the sidelines because the Giants’ starting right tackle is recovering from thumb surgery he underwent during training camp.
Glenn Foster, Saints
Undrafted rookie made roster after an impressive preseason. Defensive end will get the bulk of his action on special teams.
Michael Hoomanawanui, Patriots
With the well-documented issues at tight end with the Patriots, the fourth-year pro likely will enter Week 1 as a starter.
A.J. Jenkins, Chiefs
After a disappointing rookie season in San Francisco, the first-round pick was traded in August. Change of scenery could help backup receiver.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Reggie Bush’s acquisition will cut into the Champaign running back’s carries. Third-year pro will have to impress early to maintain his spot as the backup.
Corey Liuget, Chargers
The third-year defensive lineman enters the season as the starter at defensive end in the Chargers’ 3-4 scheme, and folks familiar with the league expect a breakout campaign.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
After falling out of favor in Pittsburgh, the former first-round running back is hoping to make a favorable impression as the Cardinals’ starter in 2013.
Whitney Mercilus, Texans
After an impressive rookie campaign in 2012, the former All-American is starting at outside linebacker for one of the NFL’s most feared defenses.
Tony Pashos, Raiders
The 11th-year pro was signed last week to add depth to a struggling offensive line, and he’ll enter the season as the backup left tackle.
Akeem Spence, Buccaneers
After opening eyes with a dominant training camp, the rookie defensive tackle — selected in the fourth round — earned the nod as a starter alongside Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
Pierre Thomas, Saints
He’s never been flashy during his six-year career, but the solid, do-it-all back enters the season as Darren Sproles’ backup and will be a consistent factor in the run and pass games.
Hugh Thornton, Colts
The rookie third-round pick broke his first training camp with the Colts as the team’s backup right guard.
Steve Weatherford, Giants
When he’s not appearing on the cover of fitness magazines, the eighth-year punter with serious guns remains one of the best in the business.
Martez Wilson, Saints
The starting outside linebacker expects to be on the field for the Week 1 opener after dislocating his elbow in late July.
Tavon Wilson, Patriots
After picking off four passes as a rookie in 2012, the former second-round pick, who can fill in at corner, will enter the season as a backup safety.
Arrelious Benn, Eagles
Justin Green, Patriots
Kelvin Hayden, Bears