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LB in NFL: 10 Long Beach Athletes Make NFL Rosters

There were 17 Long Beach athletes on NFL Training Camp rosters trying to make the team, and after the dust settled on Saturday’s cut-down day, 10 of them made it, plus an additional two guys who made practice squads. Here’s the full rundown as well as what to expect from each player as the season begins this week.

Long Beach Poly

As has been the case for decades, Long Beach Poly leads the way locally with seven players on active rosters in the NFL, a large group that includes longtime veterans, promising youngsters, and some of the league’s best players.

The Jackrabbits have at least 65 alumni who have played in the NFL, the most of any high school in the nation, and Poly has the second-most active players of any school in the nation with seven. Additionally, Poly has 30 more players in their NFL alumni ranks than the next closest public school in the nation, Miami Northwestern. No other California public or private school has more than 33 NFL alums and no other school in the state has more than Poly’s seven active alums.

JuJu Smith-Schuster headlines the list, coming into his third season with the Steelers fresh off his first Pro Bowl. Smith-Schuster’s Steelers will play on NBC as they face the Patriots on Sunday night.

Jurrell Casey and Jayon Brown are both stud defenders with the Titans, entering their ninth and third seasons, respectively. They visit the Browns Sunday morning.

Marcedes Lewis is entering his 14th season as a tight end, and will travel with the Packers to Chicago for the season opener on Thursday, Sept. 5 on NBC.

DeSean Jackson is battling through an injury but will suit up with the Eagles as he enters his 12th season. They’ll host Washington, a former team for Jackson, on Sunday morning. 

Jamize Olawale wasn’t the biggest star at Poly but has put together a tremendous NFL resume; he enters his eighth year in the league, at fullback with the Cowboys. They host the Giants in an afternoon game Sunday.

Iman “Biggie” Marshall is a rookie this year and made the 53-man roster, but has been designated for injured reserve, which will hold him out of the first eight weeks. Because he was on the initial 53-man roster, he will be eligible to return in week nine. 

Poly alum Quinton Bell impressed the Raiders enough to make their practice squad as a defensive lineman this year. JoJo Wicker was on the Washington practice squad last year and played well in the preseason, but was cut on Aug. 31 and is currently a free agent.


Joel Bitonio is fresh off a Pro Bowl appearance and set to star on the offensive line for the much-improved Cleveland Browns, who host the Titans Sunday morning.


Panthers alum John Ross enters his third year with the Bengals; they visit the Seahawks Sunday afternoon.


Matt Pryor is just the fourth Lancer to make the NFL, as he enters his second season with the Eagles. Ryan Pope was cut from the Lions but signed with the 49ers as a practice squad player. Jeremy McNichols was cut for the Titans and Toa Lobendahn was released by the Jets on Aug. 31.


A surprise cut was Datone Jones of Compton, who was set to begin his 7th NFL season as a defensive lineman; the Jaguars cut him and he’s looking for a home as a free agent.


Elijah Walker and Darren Gardenhire were the first Cabrillo alums to earn camp contracts, but neither made the Seahawks roster or practice squad, so they’re currently free agents as well.


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.