Seventeen Cougars Tackle the NFL
April 22, 2003
PULLMAN, Wash. - During the 2002 National Football League (NFL) season, 17 Washington State players appeared in regular season games.
Highlighting the list is Buffalo Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe. As a Cougar, Bledsoe currently ranks fourth on WSU's all-time passing list with 7,373 yards. He is also ranked fourth in total offense with 7,151 yards.
Bledsoe connected on 375-of-610 passes giving him a 61.5 completion percentage. He threw for 4,359 yards. A 2002 Pro Bowl Selection, Bledsoe will be starting his 11th NFL season in the fall.
Defensively, Cougar notables included Chad Eaton of the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers' linebacker Mark Fields. Eaton, a defensive tackle, tallied 51 tackles, including 26 solos, and added two fumble recoveries. Fields made 15 starts and completed the season with 103 tackles, including 76 solos and 7.5 sacks. Fields will begin his ninth season in the NFL this fall.
A pair of WSU kickers, Rian Lindell of the Seahawks and Jason Hanson of the Detroit Lions also enjoyed success last season. Lindell, in his third NFL season, booted 23-of-29 field goal attempts and converted all 38 of his extra point attempts. In the Cougar record books Lindell ranks fourth in all-time scoring with 206 points. Hanson nailed 23-of-28 field goal attempts and was 31-for-31 on extra points. Hanson is the all-time leader in scoring at WSU with 328 points.
WSU NFL PLAYER NOTES FOR 2002
Drew Bledsoe - Quarterback, Buffalo Bills...threw for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns...his 61.5 completion percentage was the highest of his 10-year NFL career...named to the Pro Bowl for fourth time in career.
Lewis Bush - Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs...recorded 18 solo tackles and eight assists.
James Darling - Linebacker, New York Jets...recorded 29 solo tackles, 11 assists, one fumble recovery and one sack...appeared in two playoff games.
Chad Eaton - Defensive Lineman, Seattle Seahawks...started all 16 games for second straight season...51 tackles and one sack...added a pair of fumble recoveries and scored one touchdown.
Mark Fields - Linebacker, Carolina Panthers...started 15 games...recorded 103 tackles, including 76 solos...added 7.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Steve Gleason - Linebacker, New Orleans Saints...primarily a special teams player during his 14 games played...recorded 15 solo tackles and one assist.
Jason Hanson - Kicker, Detroit Lions...was 23-for-28 in field goal attempts, 31-for-31 in extra point attempts...averaged 64.5 yards on his 74 kickoffs.
Chris Hayes - Defensive Back, New England Patriots...appeared in four games...recorded five tackles.
Rian Lindell - Kicker, Seattle Seahawks...23-for-29 in field goals, including a long of 52 yards...38-for-38 extra point attempts.
Rob Meier - Defensive End, Jacksonville Jaguars, recorded 19 solo tackles and three assists...has played in all 16 games for Jacksonville in each of the last three seasons...started seven games in 2002.
Scott Sanderson - Offensive tackle, New Orleans Saints...appeared in six games.
Lamont Thompson - Defensive Back, Cincinnati Bengals...NFL rookie...recorded 11 solo tackles and one assist...one interception.
Robbie Tobeck - Center, Seattle Seahawks...started all 16 games.
Brian Walker - Safety, Detroit Lions...recorded 48 tackles, including 36 solos...one sack.
Marcus Williams - Tight End, Oakland Raiders...appeared in 14 regular season and two playoff games before suffering injury in AFC Championship game.
Cory Withrow - Center, Minnesota Vikings...appeared in all 16 games.
Milton Wynn - Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens...appeared in three games.