Locals Wrotto, Heyer make playoffs

ATLANTA - Rookie linemen Mansfield Wrotto and Stephon Heyer are the only NFL players from Gwinnett County to have their teams make the playoffs.

Heyer has been able to enjoy the experience more than his former Brookwood teammate, however.

While Heyer moved into the starting lineup late in the season for the Washington Redskins, Wrotto went through the entire regular season without getting into a game.

The lack of action was definitely disappointing for Wrotto on Sunday.

Having already clinched the NFC West title and a third seed for the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks were in Atlanta for a meaningless regular-season finale against the Falcons.

With family and friends in the Georgia Dome, it seemed like a perfect time for former Georgia Tech player Wrotto to make his NFL debut.

It didn't happen.

When the list of inactive players was announced, Wrotto was one of them again, just like he had been for the first 15 games.

Seattle rested several starters in the 44-41 loss to the Falcons, but went with its regular guards. Wrotto was out of luck again.

"It was definitely disappointing not to play," Wrotto said. "I've wanted to play from the first game and it hasn't happened.

"But I can't get too down. Hopefully, I'll have a lot of years to play in the NFL."

The Seahawks drafted Wrotto in the fourth round and aren't disappointed with their pick despite his lack of action this season. They knew that Wrotto was a project.

Wrotto played defense his first three seasons at Georgia Tech before being moved to offensive tackle as a senior. He had never played guard until joining the Seahawks.

"It's been a big transition from college to the NFL," said Wrotto, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds. "It's just my second year playing the O line and my first at guard. I've got a lot to learn and I'm just trying to be patient."

In contrast, an opportunity came quicker than expected for ex-Brookwood teammate Heyer.

Heyer, who is 6-6 and 325 pounds, wasn't drafted out of Maryland and had to make the Redskins as a free agent. But injuries gave him a chance to play and he finished the regular season as the starter at right tackle.

That's where Heyer is scheduled to be Saturday when the Redskins and Seahawks play in Seattle in the NFC playoff opener. Game time is 4:30 p.m. on NBC.

Washington won its final four games - all with Heyer starting - to finish 9-7 and make the postseason as the final wild-card. The Seahawks won the NFC West with a 10-6 record.

SideBar: Gwinnett NFL players

Season update on NFL players from Gwinnett County:

Jeff Backus, OT, Lions (Norcross)

Has started 112 consecutive games in NFL career

Jason Elam, PK, Broncos (Brookwood)

Kicked fourth game-winning FG, beating Vikings in OT

David Greene, QB, Chiefs (South Gwinnett)

Joined K.C. practice squad after time with Patriots

Stephon Heyer, OT, Redskins (Brookwood)

Moved into starting lineup as rookie free agent

David Irons, CB, Falcons (Dacula)

Special-teams standout missed final game (hamstring)

Jon Stinchcomb, OT, Saints (Parkview)

Started at right tackle in every game for New Orleans

Darius Walker, RB, Texans (Buford)

Scored TD and had 86 yards in season finale

Mansfield Wrotto, OG, Seahawks (Brookwood)

Fourth-round draft choice inactive for every game