Entering 2019 training camp, there was a fair amount of local representation on NFL rosters.

However, with roster cuts being finalized Saturday for Week 1 of the NFL's 100th season — which begins Thursday when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers — that number was significantly sliced.

Still, some figure to take the field this weekend while others remain hopeful that another professional opportunity waits in the wings. With that, here's a list of local players who are in — or currently on the outside of — the NFL picture with the 2019 campaign about the kick off.


Derek Carr (Bakersfield Christian), QB, Oakland Raiders

NFL experience: Entering fifth season

2018 stats: 16 starts, 381-553, 4,049 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs, 1 rushing TD

One way or another, this will be Carr's final season in Oakland. It's a two-pronged statement — while this is a pivotal season for Carr in general, the Raiders are also planning to relocate to Las Vegas at season's end.

Meanwhile, Carr is coming off an up-and-down 2018 campaign. As for the ups, he hit career highs in completions and passing yards, along with making his third straight Pro Bowl. The downs, however, had Carr with a career low in touchdowns and the team only mustering a 4-12 record.

Carr will have some new talent to throw the ball to this season, which can't hurt. The big fish the Raiders reeled in was former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown who, despite his off-the-field headlines, is still considered an elite player. Brown is coming off a 104 catch, 1,297 yard, 15-touchdown campaign with Pittsburgh, so he should be a major target in the Oakland offense.

Carr will also have help in the backfield from rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs, a first round pick out of Alabama, is a dual-threat who was ranked the top at his position in the draft.

D.J. Reed (Independence), DB, San Francisco 49ers

NFL experience: Entering second season

2018 stats: 15 games played (2 starts), 30 tackles, 11 assists, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

Reed started his rookie campaign on the 49ers special teams unit but, with the team hit hard by injuries, found his way to more reps on defense while also making a couple late-season starts. After performing well at the end of last year and in 2019 preseason — including a key 56-yard kickoff return in the final game against the Chargers — Reed showed just how versatile he can be for the Niners, and in turn how valuable he can become. 

Reed will start out the year as a nickel- and dime-back option for the defense as well as continuing his special teams duties.

Tyrone Crawford (Bakersfield College), DE, Dallas Cowboys

NFL experience: Entering sixth season

2018 stats: 15 starts, 17 tackles, 17 assists, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Due to injuries, Crawford moved along the interior of the defensive line and posted a career high in sacks and nearly matched his career high in tackles. A solid hand on the field, an off-the-field issue in the offseason saw the co-captain nearly lose his job.

On March 15, video footage showed Crawford getting into a fight with security at a bar in Panama City Beach, Fla. Crawford, who claimed he was coming to the aid of his brother, was not arrested but was charged two weeks later with a misdemeanor count of unlawful assembly and pled not guilty in April. Crawford entered a diversion program in July where he is attending counseling, anger management and six months of supervised probation. If completed, his charges will be dropped. The NFL is still investigating the matter and a possible punishment could be looming.

On top of that, Crawford re-aggravated a hip injury during offseason workouts, which prompted him to have surgery and miss Cowboys camp. Regardless, Crawford remains on the final 53-man roster and is still seen as a valuable asset to the Dallas defense.

Cole Mazza (Liberty), LS, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL experience: Entering first season

Mazza was a highly-rated long snapper coming out of Liberty in 2013, and went to national powerhouse Alabama. After a flawless four-year tenure with the Crimson Tide — including a perfect 583 snaps over his college career — Mazza did not get picked up by an NFL team and became a fitness coach for two years.

Then he got his chance to take the field again when the Alliance of American Football was formed, becoming the long snapper for the Birmingham Iron.

Mazza was impressive enough during his brief tenure with Birmingham to catch the Chargers' attention, signing with the AFC West squad on April 9. Mazza then competed with, and beat out, veteran long snapper Mike Windt for the job, and will be long snapping on a Chargers team that enters the 2019 season with high expectations.


Cody Kessler (Centennial), QB

Last played with: Philadelphia Eagles

NFL experience: Entering fourth season

2018 stats: 5 games played (4 starts), 85-131, 709 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 19 rush, 123 yards, 5 fumbles (3 lost)

Kessler entered the 2018 season as the backup of the Jacksonville Jaguars and, due to injuries and general ineffectiveness of then-starter Blake Bortles,  saw significant playing time down the stretch. Most importantly, after two excruciating seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Kessler picked up his first career win as a starter on Dec. 2 against Indianapolis.

However, the Jaguars wanted a change at the quarterback position and Kessler was released on May 9, only to be picked up by Philadelphia three days later. 

On Aug. 15, in a preseason game against his former Jaguars team, Kessler was diagnosed with a concussion, however, after a big hit. He was subsequently waived on Aug. 30 as the Eagles decided to go with Josh McCown as backup QB.

Jared Norris (Centennial), LB

Last played with: Carolina Panthers

NFL experience: Entering fourth season

2018 stats: 3 games played, 1 tackle

Much like how his 2017 campaign ended, Norris' 2018 season prematurely came to a close on Oct. 12 after he suffered a toe injury in practice.

Despite signing a two-year extension on March 3, the special teamer's time in Carolina came to an end on Aug. 31 as he was placed on waivers in the team's final wave of roster cuts. 

Colton Schmidt (Liberty), P

Last played with: Buffalo Bills/Birmingham Iron (AAF)

NFL experience: Entering fifth season

2018 NFL stats: 16 punts, 676 yards, long of 55 yards, 2 touchbacks

Schmidt's season last year had its ups and downs. After starting the year as the Bills punter, he was released on Sept. 2 after the team claimed punter Corey Bojorquez on waivers. After Bojorquez was placed on injured reserve, the Bills resigned Schmidt on Halloween. He would then be released again on Nov. 27 as the Bills signed Frontier graduate Matt Darr.

Schmidt would then try his luck in the Alliance of American Football, being assigned to the Birmingham Iron. Schmidt would find success in the abbreviated season, being named the AAF Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 49.2 yards on five punts in Week 3 of the season.

Matt Darr (Frontier), P

Last played with: New York Jets

NFL experience: Entering fourth season

2018 stats: 20 punts, 809 yards, long of 55 yards, 1 touchback

The aforementioned Darr replaced fellow Bakersfield native Schmidt for the Bills punting job on Nov. 27. He was not retained after the season and signed with the Jets on May 20 to compete for their punting job. He would lose out to Lac Edwards and was released on Aug. 31.

Rishard Matthews (Bakersfield College), WR

Last played with: New Orleans Saints

NFL experience: Retired after seven seasons

2018 stats: 8 games played, 5 catches, 24 yards

Matthews' anticipated big season with the Tennessee Titans did not go as planned, as he only had three catches in three games. In turn, Matthews asked for his release on Sept. 26 over his lack of playing time and targets. Matthews would eventually catch on with the Jets on Oct. 23, but still saw diminished playing time and was eventually placed on injured reserve on Dec. 18.

Matthews would sign with New Orleans on June 13 but would voluntarily leave camp on Aug. 10 and was released, a day after playing in the Saints' preseason opener. Three days later, Matthews would announce his retirement on Instagram.

Matthews finished his seven-year career with 230 catches for 3,160 yards and 21 scores.

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