CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Titans and Sioux Falls Storm have met in the conference title game in each of the past four seasons.
If the Titans have any hope to make it five, they will need to dig out of an ever-increasing hole.
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Shaun Prater was flying around, as they say, for the Minnesota Vikings during their preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night.
The former Iowa cornerback has just started to get his feet wet in the NFL. Drafted in the fifth round by Cincinnati in 2012, he was put on injured reserve before that season started because of a knee injury.
He got cut by the Bengals late in training camp last year, but got picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in one regular-season game with the Eagles and was released after two months with the team.
Then the Vikings signed him at about the midway point of the season, and Prater became a contributor. He played in eight games, and started three. He had an interception against none other than the Eagles.
But Prater went to Minnesota because the Vikings had injury problems at cornerback. This year, he’s working his way up from the bottom side of the team’s depth chart. He’s probably borderline to make the team’s 53-man roster.
So it didn’t help Saturday when Prater, who had been very active in a good way in the team’s 30-28 win over Arizona, suffered a head injury in the first half that was later ruled a mild concussion.
Prater had played well in Minnesota’s preseason opener the week before. He’ll need to get well and active quickly to make his team’s roster.
In that same Arizona-Minnesota game, former Hawkeye tight end Allen Reisner caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from rookie Teddy Bridgewater.
Blossoming Kyle Rudolph clearly is the Vikes’ No. 1 tight end, and Rhett Ellison is a solid No. 2. Then it’s between Reisner, Mike Higgins and Kory Sperry for No. 3.
Sperry joined the Vikings last week. He played for two years in San Diego under Minnesota offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Nothing has come easy for Reisner. He was the last player signed in the recruiting class that brought him to Iowa. He signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and played in six games, catching one pass. He was cut in midseason, then placed on the practice squad.
He played in four games with Minnesota in 2012. The Jacksonville Jaguars claimed him on waivers on Christmas Eve, 2012.
Last year, Reisner played in five games with the Jaguars, starting three. He caught five passes. He had an MCL injury and missed about half the season.
He was a free agent this year and returned to the Vikings. Now he is again fighting to make a team.
I’ve written before here about center James Ferentz’s quest to make the Houston Texans’ roster as an undrafted free agent who hasn’t played in a football game since November 2012.
Ferentz started for the Texans Saturday in their 32-7 victory over Atlanta, with the team giving starter Chris Myers the game off.
“James isn’t the biggest guy (6-2, 285),” Houston Coach Bill O’Brien said after the game, “but he’s strong, tough and very smart. He’s obviously a coach’s son. ... he’s earned some playing time and an opportunity to get on film and be evaluated.”
Ferentz’s former Iowa teammate, Texans rookie tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, had two catches for 14 yards.
In fact, former Hawkeye tight ends had nine catches for 80 yards in Week 2 preseason play. Scott Chandler, the Buffalo Bills’ starting TE, had four receptions for 40 yards. Reisner, Fiedorowicz and Brandon Myers (1 catch for 10 yards for Tampa Bay) made up the rest.
Rookie offensive lineman Brett Van Sloten of Iowa, an undrafted free agent who faced tough odds to make the Baltimore Ravens’ roster, didn’t get any help Saturday night when he reportedly suffered an MCL tear in the Ravens’ 37-30 preseason win at Dallas.
Van Sloten obviously didn’t practice with the Ravens on Monday. The reason for his absence was “undisclosed.”
I’ve said it many times, and say it again. Tough racket, pro football.