Luke Willson, Orlando Franklin and Tyrone Crawford are among the Ontario-born athletes having a significant impact in the NFL this season.
The three Ontarians are among eight currently active NFL players from the province.
Defensive linemen Stefan Charles (Buffalo Bills – Oshawa) and Colin Cole (Carolina Panthers – Toronto), kicker Shaun Suisham (Pittsburgh Steelers – Wallaceburg) and offensive lineman Austin Pasztor (Jacksonville Jaguars – Langton) are also regular starters in the league this season.
Chris Okrainetz, author of Toronto Sports Blog Tip of the Tower (@TipOfTheTower – part of the Sports Illustrated Fan Sided network) recently published a mid-season ‘Canadians in the NFL’ report, focusing on these Ontarians http://tipofthetower.com/2014/11/03/ontarians-nfl-mid-season-report/
On Orlando Franklin (Denver Broncos – Toronto):
“After protecting quarterback Peyton Manning’s blindside last season, the team decided to transition Franklin to left guard this year. Through eight weeks of the season, it is safe to say that the transition to left guard has gone over smoothly for the 27-year-old Toronto native, as the Broncos once again rank as one of the league’s very best offences. . . . . he has committed five penalties this season, but has been a key part of the Broncos’ running attack.”
On Stefan Charles:
“With Buffalo Bills standout defensive tackle Kyle Williams battling injuries this season, Charles has seen an increased role along the Bills defensive line. As a part of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s ferocious front four rotation, Charles has played in eight games this season, compiling 10 total tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.”
On Colin Cole:
“Through nine weeks of the season, Cole has appeared in all nine games for the Panthers, starting in seven of them. Cole has registered 20 total tackles (7 solo, 13 assisted) this season, but is yet to obtain a sack.”
He also writes that the Panthers have struggled on defence, allowing an average of 131.9 rushing yards per game so far, and that the team “did start younger defensive tackle Kawann Short in his place this past weekend.”
On Shaun Suisham:
“After signing a brand new four-year deal this past off-season, Suisham has continued his consistent play, converting on 14-of-15 field goal attempts this year. On top of his great accuracy, Suisham has hit six field goals from 40-49 yards out, as well as a one from 50 plus yard out. With 65 points through eight games, Suisham is on pace to break his career high mark of 129 points that he set last season.”
On Tyrone Crawford (Dallas Cowboys – Windsor):
“Through eight games, he has 19 tackles (10 solo, 9 assisted) and a whopping 17 hurries. Even though he is yet to register a sack, the 17 hurries indicates that Crawford has been very disruptive this season.”
On Luke Willson (Seattle Seahawks – LaSalle):
“Although Willson is yet to establish himself in the Seahawks’ offence, he did catch a 23-yard game-winning touchdown last weekend against the Panthers. The touchdown came with 47 seconds left in the game, putting the Seahawks up 13-9.”
On Austin Pasztor:
“After missing the first four games of the season with a broken bone in his right hand, Pasztor returned to the Jaguars starting lineup in Week 5. Starting at right tackle, Pasztor has quickly re-established himself as one of the Jaguars’ better offensive linemen.”