DURHAM, N.C. – Six former Blue Devils have earned spots on NFL rosters as the league’s 32 franchises trimmed to the mandatory 53 players over the weekend.
Veteran linebackers Patrick Bailey and Vincent Rey headline the group which also includes defensive back Ross Cockrell, tight end Cooper Helfet, quarterback Sean Renfree and running back Juwan Thompson. Additionally, defensive end Kenny Anunike is listed on the injured reserve chart of the Denver Broncos.
Bailey enters his seventh season in the NFL and fifth with the Tennessee Titans. In 2013, he was named special teams captain for the Titans and was third on the club with 13 special teams tackles. A former Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bailey lettered four seasons (2004-05-06-07) at Duke and amassed 191 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Rey begins his fifth campaign in the NFL, all with the Cincinnati Bengals. Last season, he posted 57 tackles, 4.0 sacks and two interceptions as the Bengals advanced to the playoffs. His season highlight came on November 10 at Baltimore when Rey became the first player in Bengals history to register three sacks and one interception in a game. At Duke from 2006-09, Rey is one of 14 players in Blue Devil history to amass 300-plus tackles in a career.
Cockrell was a fourth round selection of the Buffalo Bills in the 2014 NFL Draft. As a two-time first team All-ACC pick with the Blue Devils, he played in and started 49 games while compiling 233 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 12 interceptions and served as a team captain in both 2012 and 2013 as Duke made back-to-back bowl game appearances.
Helfet earned a spot on the Seattle Seahawks roster after spending the 2013 season – which culminated with a Super Bowl title – on the organization’s practice squad. In two seasons (2010-11) at Duke, he caught 77 passes for 785 yards and six touchdowns and twice received All-ACC honors.
Renfree is charted as the Atlanta Falcons’ third string quarterback behind Matt Ryan and T.J. Yates. The former two-year team captain at Duke spent his rookie season of 2013 on the injured reserve list. Playing in 41 games from 2009-12, Renfree threw for 9,465 yards and 51 touchdowns and finished his career holding or sharing 25 school records.
An undrafted rookie, Thompson made Denver’s roster after leading the Broncos in rushing yardage during the preseason. A team captain at Duke last year, Thompson finished his collegiate career having rushed for 1,244 yards and nine touchdowns in 49 games.
Anunike, also an undrafted rookie with the Broncos, suffered an arm injury during preseason camp. In 54 games at Duke, he posted 148 tackles, 26.0 tackles for loss and 15.0 quarterback sacks.