Healthy, Mauga aims for roster spot
Since 2006, a small slice of Fallon has lived in the NFL.
Harvey Dahl signed with the Cowboys and had solid stints in Atlanta and St. Louis. Dahl wasn’t drafted and noticed by the Cowboys as a free agent after four years on the offensive line at Nevada.
Five years ago Dahl was joined by Josh Mauga, who went undrafted as well and eventually landed with the Jets where he was a backup linebacker and special teams player for four years. Injuries mounted and eventually took down Mauga in 2012 after he began the season with high hopes of becoming a regular contributor on defense.
Coincidently, injuries sidelined Dahl the last couple of seasons with the Rams, leading to St. Louis releasing Dahl during the spring. Dahl remains a free agent.
After months of physical therapy and support from family, friends and the community, Mauga’s back on his feet in prime shape and ready to make another splash with Kansas City.
Someone was looking over Mauga this summer after he spent time in San Diego training before coming home to participate in the Hometown Heroes event in June. Although he received interest from several teams, including the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Browns, it was Kansas City that wanted to see if Mauga could regain the form that put him in discussions of being one of the best linebackers on the West Coast during his college days.
The stars aligned perfectly for Mauga last week when Kansas City flew in Mauga to give the ex-Nevada and Fallon star another chance at the NFL. He didn’t disappoint, either, on the field and passed his physical and put to rest some of the skeptics the injury bug would return.
But the story of Mauga’s return this season has a Nevada flavor.
After Chris Ault stepped down two years ago from as the Wolf Pack’s head coach, Kansas City hired him as a consultant a year after his quarterback protégée, Colin Kaepernick, dazzled with Ault’s creation, the Pistol offense. Mauga played with Kaepernick for the last two years and has experience defending the Pistol and other hybrid formations that are becoming the norm in the NFL.
Who was one of the first people Mauga ran into when he arrived last week?
And both were excited to see each other as they caught up on the last few years since Mauga’s Nevada career transitioned into the pros. Mauga said he even had to give Ault a hard time about wearing red after his stand against the color as it associated with the Pack’s rival, UNLV.
Ault wasn’t the only familiar face as Mauga was reunited with his defensive coordinator from the Jets, Bob Sutton, who has helmed the Chiefs’ defense after Andy Reid came in last year. Mauga said Sutton was also the linebackers coach in New York and helped him achieve his dream of playing on Sundays.
During his time in New York, Mauga played in several postseason games, faced off against Tom Brady and was one win shy of possibly facing Dahl and the Falcons in the Super Bowl in early 2011.
Mauga has work to do this month, and he knows it. Nothing’s going to be given to him just because he knows Ault and Sutton. And he’s shown so far in one week of training camp he deserves to be on the field just as much as the starting linebackers.
Getting into the NFL is difficult but staying in the league and producing a noteworthy career is more challenging. For Mauga, this one-month job interview could be the last shot he gets to continue his dream.
The only thing stopping Mauga is his body. But if the breaks go his way, Mauga should make the 53-man roster by the end of this month and play on Sundays against some of the best teams in the league, including Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the 49ers and Seahawks.
Mauga has the potential to achieve a flourishing career, but the first step is making the team’s final roster. Success will shortly follow.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.