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NFL teeming with Gwinnett grads

Former South Gwinnett standout Rod Smith remains a long shot to make the San Diego Chargers, but at least family and friends got to hear his name called Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.

The rookie free agent from Auburn returned the second-half kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons for 19 yards. He also saw action at wide receiver, but didn't catch a pass in the Falcons' last-second 27-24 preseason victory.

North Gwinnett graduate Jason Cook hopes to have his name called Thursday night when the Baltimore Ravens play at the Georgia Dome in the preseason finale. But first the free agent fullback from Ole Miss has to get through today's NFL roster cut to 75 players. Rosters must be trimmed to 53 on Saturday.

While Cook faced a difficult task sticking with Baltimore, his younger brother Jared isn't in any jeopardy with Tennessee. The third-round draft choice from South Carolina is the Titans' leading receiver during preseason games.

The tight end has 17 catches for 159 yards in four games and no other Tennessee player has more than seven grabs. He had five catches in a 23-17 loss to Cleveland on Saturday despite turning an ankle. The injury isn't serious.

Cook had three catches in the Hall of Fame game against Buffalo, six the next week against Tampa Bay and three grabs two weeks ago against Dallas. At 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, he has good size for a tight end, but his speed and experience as a former wide receiver make him perfect to split out at times.

"We drafted him to play, so we're going to put him in position to make plays for us," Titans coach Jeff Fisher told the Tennessean newspaper.

With Brookwood graduate Stephon Heyer winning a starting job with the Washington Redskins, Gwinnett County will have three offensive tackles playing regularly in the NFL this season. Jeff Backus of Norcross is with the Detroit Lions and Jon Sinchcomb of Parkview with the New Orleans Saints.

Brookwood graduate Jason Elam is the kicker for the Falcons and Brandon Coutu is bidding to win the regular job with the Seattle Seahawks. The former Georgia standout from Collins Hill is battling veteran Olindo Mare.

Coutu is 4-for-5 in his field goal attempts during the preseason, while Mare is 0-for-2. But kicking off will also factor into the decision and Mare has the advantage there. The battle is expected to go down to the wire.

Mansfield Wrotto, a Brookwood grad who went to Georgia Tech, is bidding for a regular job at guard with the Seahawks. He started four games at the end of last season.

Former Buford and Notre Dame standout Darius Walker is trying to make the Denver Broncos as a reserve running back. He has 105 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries in three preseason games and has also caught five passes. Walker played in four games and started two with Houston in 2007, rushing for 264 yards.