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As training camps open, the 10 locals trying to make NFL rosters

Virgil Green
Nevada alum Virgil Green is entering his 10th season in the NFL. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It will be both easier and harder for locals to make NFL rosters this season. Harder because instead of allowing 90 players at the start of training camp, NFL teams must cut down to 80 by the first practice, which is Aug. 16, due to COVID-19 precautions, which already cost Reed High alum Parker Houston a camp spot as he was waived by the Arizona Cardinals earlier this week. On the flipside, those who do make it into camp, will have better odds of staying on the roster with practice squads increasing from 10 players to 16 because of the pandemic. With training camps kicking off this week, here is a look at the 10 locals looking to make NFL roster in the coming weeks. Players listed in alphabetical order.

* Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers: Aiyuk became the second local high school player to become a first-round NFL draft pick, and it's an amazing story for the McQueen High grad who didn't play his junior season and had to go to junior college for two years before landing in the FBS. The No. 25 pick in the draft, Aiyuk could start as a rookie given the 49ers' relative lack of depth at wide receiver and Aiyuk's explosiveness and ability to run after the catch, which were the biggest reasons he was drafted. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has compared him to Isaac Bruce.

* OG Joel Bitonio, Browns: The Wolf Pack alum has established himself as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, yet he's still underrated (he didn't make the NFL top 100 list released this week). The Cleveland Browns' offensive guard has made back-to-back Pro Bowl rosters, and even more impressive, back-to-back All-Pro teams. Bitonio had two seasons cut short by injury early in his NFL career, but he's started all 16 games for three straight seasons and hasn't missed a single offensive snap in any of those years.

* OL Austin Corbett, Rams: After being the first pick of the second round of the 2018 draft, Corbett struggled to get full buy-in from the Browns on his future, as evidenced by the midseason trade to the Rams for a fifth-round pick last season that helped revitalize his career. Corbett played only 15 offensive snaps in two years in Cleveland (14 games). In eight games in L.A., including seven starts, Corbett played 541 snaps and is being counted on to win a starting job on the interior of the line in 2020, which will be his third in the league.

* LS Wes Farnsworth, Broncos: Farnsworth, a Bishop Manogue and Wolf Pack alum, signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins prior to last season but didn't make the team. He gets another crack at it with the Denver Broncos this season. Farnsworth is one of two long snappers in Denver's camp along with undrafted rookie Jacob Bobenmoyer from Northern Colorado. Bobenmoyer spent time in Broncos camp last year but didn't make the team, so it feels like a 50-50 proposition on whether Farnsworth or Bobenmoyer win the job.

* WR Devin Gray, Falcons: A Reed High graduate, Gray has spent the last two seasons on the Falcons' practice squad and will go through his third training camp in Atlanta, so the Falcons clearly like the speedy 6-foot receiver, although he's still looking to make his first 53-man roster. Atlanta has a good one-two punch at wide receiver with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but there are jobs to be won behind them, and Gray will get another chance to have his breakthrough. The expansion of the practice squad certainly helps Gray if he doesn't make the 53.

* TE Virgil Green, Chargers: The title of longest-tenured local player in the NFL remains with Green, who is entering his 10th season in the league. His 131 NFL games rank as the eighth most among Wolf Pack alums (Brock Marion leads the way with 182 NFL games). Green appeared in 15 games for the Chargers last season, starting four. He caught nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown and is best known for his blocking, which has kept him in the league. In his career, Green has 99 receptions for 1,095 yards and six touchdowns.

* TE Jacob Hollister, Seahawks: Hollister walked on at Nevada in 2012 before transferring to a junior college and becoming a standout at Wyoming. He spent two seasons in New England before signing with Seattle last season, which was his best season in the NFL. Hollister caught 41 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns and ranked 17th in the league in receptions for tight ends, which is more impressive when you consider Hollister only played in 11 games (with three starts). He should see more snaps from the start this season.

* WR Cody Hollister, Titans: Jacob's twin brother, Cody also walked on at Nevada in 2012 before going to junior college, only he landed in the SEC at Arkansas as a wide receiver. Cody also spent two seasons in New England before leaving Foxborough for another destination. He signed with Tennessee prior to last season and spent most of the season on the practice squad before making his NFL regular-season debut late in the season. Hollister appeared in five games and caught two passes for 13 yards for the Titans.

* LB Malik Reed, Broncos: Reed was a pass-rushing phenom at Nevada who was named to the All-Mountain West team three times before signing an undrafted free-agent deal with the Denver Broncos after not being selected in the 2019 draft. He made the active roster out of training camp and played in 15 games with eight starts as a rookie. Reed had 27 tackles, including four for loss, and two sacks and added a fumble recovery, a pass deflection and five quarterback hits. He should be even better during his second season in the league.

* Kyle Van Noy, Dolphins: The McQueen High graduate cashed in after a couple of successful seasons in New England. Van Noy signed a four-year contract with Miami that's worth $51 million, including $30 million in guaranteed money. Van Noy is entering his seventh season in the league and had a career-best 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 2019 while adding 56 total tackles. Van Noy struggled in Detroit early on before reviving his career in New England. Miami marks the third NFL stop for the former BYU star.

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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