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NFL Playoffs Wildcard Round: Notre Dame Primer

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A handful of former Irish football players will take the field in the opening round of the NFL playoffs this weekend

Minnesota Vikings v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

The 2019 NFL Playoffs begin this weekend with four Wild Card games on Saturday and Sunday. Several of the squads taking the field this weekend prominently feature names that fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program will know quite well.

If you need a refresher, here’s a look at what Irish football players are likely to take the field for their respective pro clubs.


Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans - Saturday, 4:35 PM ET

Texans’ wide receiver Will Fuller V (2013-2015) is a game-time decision to play against Buffalo due to a groin injury. Fuller has been dealing with injuries for much of the season, missing five games already. Despite that, Fuller’s output has been decent with 49 receptions for 670 receiving yards.

Center Nick Martin (2011-2015) has also started every game for Houston this season. He’s helped pave the way for the Texans to accumulate 2,009 rushing yards this season, but his team has one of the higher sack totals in the league with 49 in 2019.

Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots - Saturday, 8:15 PM ET

Neither the Titans or the Patriots have any former Notre Dame players on their active roster. They are two of ten such teams in the NFL at the moment.

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints - Sunday, 1:05 PM ET

Tight end Kyle Rudolph (2008-2010) hasn’t didn’t have his most productive season in 2019, but still hauled in six touchdowns on 39 receptions with 367 yards. Rudolph is expected to be a big part of the the Vikings’ offensive attack throughout their playoff run.

Safety Harrison Smith (2008-2011) earned a Pro Bowl nod for the fifth consecutive season in 2019. He has forced three fumbles, intercepted three passes, and picked up one sack this season on the way to accumulating 65 tackles.

For New Orleans, linebacker Manti Te’o (2009-2012) has seen limited time with the Saints’ defense after being resigned late in the season. He’s played in three games with four total tackles so far. A healthy Kiko Alonso means that Te’o’s minutes will continue to be limited. Te’o was inactive in week 17.

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles - Sunday, 4:40 PM ET

Seattle running back C.J. Prosise (2012-2015) will miss the playoffs after suffering a season ending arm injury early in the season.

The Eagles are another club with no former Notre Dame players on their roster.