SPORTS

Jake Rudock, Tevaun Smith shine in NFL preseason finales

They, and Austin Blythe, will soon learn if they made their teams

Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Tevaun Smith of Iowa catches a pass during training camp at Anderson University. (Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY Sports)
Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Tevaun Smith of Iowa catches a pass during training camp at Anderson University. (Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY Sports)

Former Iowa Hawkeyes football players made their closing arguments Thursday night for NFL roster spots.

Quarterback Jake Rudock and wide receiver Tevaun Smith had strong performances Thursday night, and now wait to what their respective teams will do as they cut rosters to the 53-player minimum for the season’s start.

Rudock, who transferred from Iowa to Michigan before his senior season, threw three touchdown passes Thursday in the Detroit Lions’ 31-0 home preseason win over the Buffalo Bills.

He completed 14 of 23 passes for 171 yards and rushed four times for 31 yards, including a 17-yard carry on a 3rd-and-10.

“He played well,” said Detroit Coach Jim Caldwell. “Did an excellent job.

“He’s grasping the offense better and better and better. He’s a smart guy anyway. He works at it. He made some nice throws this evening and certainly did a nice job just in terms of operating the offense.”

Over four preseason games, Rudock was 30-for-51 for 333 yards, with four TDs and one interception. He rushed 10 times for 62 yards.

Matthew Stafford is entrenched as the Lions’ starter, but there is now question over whether Rudock could supplant 11-year veteran Dan Orlovsky as the Lions’ No. 2 QB.

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If Detroit carries just two quarterbacks on its active roster, Rudock could also be waived and then re-signed and placed on the Lions’ practice squad. He was the team’s sixth-round draft choice this year after being the starting quarterback on Michigan’s 10-3 team last year.

Smith caught four passes for 39 yards in his Indianapolis Colts’ 13-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati Thursday, including the game-deciding 25-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left.

That upped Smith’s preseason totals to 10 receptions for 138 yards and two TDs.

Whether there is room for the rookie on the Colts’ 53-man roster remains unclear. Fellow receiver Chester Rogers had seven catches for 80 yards Thursday. Rogers and Smith are vying for the No. 4 receiver job.

Smith had 102 catches for 1,500 yards in his Iowa career.

“I have a chip on my shoulder — I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder,” Smith said last week, “and I’m going to do whatever I can to push myself and to make this team, really.”

Austin Blythe of Williamsburg, who played center on the Iowa offense that featured Smith, is also an Indianapolis rookie trying to earn a job as an offensive lineman. The Colts took center Ryan Kelly of Alabama in the first round of the 2016 draft. Blythe was a seventh-round pick in that draft.

Kelly was held out of Thursday’s game, and Blythe started in his place. He had started at left guard the week before in place injured starter Jack Mewhort. Blythe was in 48 plays in each of Indianapolis’ in first two preseason games.

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