Cougars in the Pros -- Week 12

Philadelphia all-purpose back and returner extraordinaire Reno Mahe is again climbing the lists of league leaders after battling an injury earlier in the season.

After leading the entire NFL in punt return average one year ago, Philadelphia all-purpose back and returner extraordinaire Reno Mahe is again climbing the lists of league leaders after battling an injury earlier in the season. In week twelve of the NFL season, Mahe returned six kickoffs for 143 yards, including a long of 49 yards. On the season, Mahe ranks sixth in the NFC with a kickoff return average of 24.1 yards. He also returned one punt for three yards in the Eagles' 45-21 week twelve loss to Indianapolis. Mahe's punt return average of 11.5 would rank him sixth in the NFL and third in the NFC if he had enough punt returns to qualify statistically.

Mahe is happy to be playing again after battling an injury but acknowledges not being 100 percent. "It's nice to get back in there," he said. "I love football. At this time of the year, I don't think anyone in the NFL is 100 percent." Mahe credits his success in the return game to his special teams coach, John Harbaugh, and the players that block for him. "Coach Harbaugh is a great coach," Mahe said. "I just like getting the ball and trying to make a play. But the guys that block do all the hard work."

Apart from his success in the NFL, Mahe also enjoys the camaraderie with other BYU players in the pros. "Before and after games [the former Cougars] always talk and take pictures," he said. "I just took a picture with Rob Morris last week after the game. We all have that BYU connection wherever we go." Mahe could only laugh when asked about getting tackled by Rob Morris one week after another former Cougar, Tennessee linebacker Colby Bockwoldt, tackled him twice. "They always say something when they tackle me and we start laughing," Mahe conceded. "We have fun with it."

Mahe follows the current Cougar football squad closely and is enjoying their success. "We've been able to hold our heads up high this season," Mahe said proudly. He also notes that BYU helped prepare him for the difficult NFL life. "I'll always be indebted to BYU because it helps you grow up and stand for something," he said. "The NFL is a crazy world, but BYU helped prepare me for it."

Philadelphia offensive lineman and fellow former Cougar Scott Young did not play in week twelve. Currently, head coach Andy Reid's Eagles are in third place in the NFC East with a record of 5-6. Indianapolis linebacker Rob Morris recorded three tackles, including two solo takedowns, in the Colts' victory. The Colts improved to 10-1 on the season with the victory.

Former BYU coach and player and current NFL head coach Brian Billick saw his Baltimore Ravens shutout Pittsburgh 27-0 for their fifth victory in a row. Billick's Ravens are 9-2 on the season and in first place in the AFC North. Defensive lineman Brett Keisel started and led all Pittsburgh defensive linemen with six tackles, including three solo takedowns, in the loss. Keisel also added one quarterback hurry and one pass deflection. Fellow former Cougar and current Pittsburgh defensive lineman Chris Hoke also contributed with two tackles, including one solo, from his nose tackle position. A third Pittsburgh defensive lineman from BYU, Shaun Nua, is on the Steelers' practice squad.

Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren also finds his team atop the division standings. Seattle improved to 7-4, good enough for first in the NFC West, with a 34-24 victory over Green Bay on Monday Night Football. Tight end Itula Mili saw action for Seattle in the victory. Seattle tight ends coach Jim Lind coached at BYU with Holmgren. Meanwhile, Green Bay linebacker Brady Poppinga registered five tackles, including four solo, for the Pack.

Former BYU coach and current Tennessee offensive coordinator Norm Chow also was victorious in week twelve. Chow's offense racked up 343 total yards in a 24-21 victory over the New York Giants. The win was the second in a row for the Titans. Rookie quarterback Vince Young (University of Texas), under Chow's tutelage, passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns -- and no interceptions -- in the Titans' victory. For his part, Bockwoldt recorded three tackles, including one solo takedown, in the Titans' victory.

Second-year Arizona safety Aaron Francisco made four tackles, including three solo takedowns, in the Cardinals' narrow 31-26 defeat to Minnesota. Rookie full back Fahu Tahi was picked up by Minnesota and added to its active roster before the game. Tahi, who was on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad, was not active for the game. Rookie wide receiver Todd Watkins is on the Cardinals' practice squad.

Both Denney brothers saw their AFC East squads come out on top in week twelve. Older brother Ryan's Buffalo Bills edged Jacksonville 27-24. Ryan registered three tackles, including one solo takedown, in the Bills' win. Younger brother John's Miami Dolphins beat Detroit 27-10 on Thanksgiving Day to record their fourth win in a row. John serves as the Dolphins' first-string long snapper. Tight end Doug Jolley and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also played on Thanksgiving Day but were downed 38-10 by Dallas. Jolley played in the Bucs' loss.

The Chicago Bears lost only their second game of the season as New England downed the Bears 17-13. Offensive tackle John Tait started for the Bears and has started all eleven games this season. Chicago tight end Gabe Reid also saw action in the Bears' loss.

Offensive lineman Scott Jackson, recently picked up by the Houston Texans, was not active in the Texans' 26-11 loss to the New York Jets. Second year offensive lineman Ben Archibald is on the New Orleans Saints' practice squad. The Saints beat Atlanta 31-13 in week twelve. Archibald appeared in five games for the Saints last season.

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