WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Five former Purdue football players are on teams which have advanced to the 2017 NFL playoffs: Ricardo Allen (Atlanta), Cliff Avril (Seattle), Anthony Brown (Dallas), Akeem Hunt (Houston) and Rob Ninkovich (New England).
Allen started all 16 games as a safety for the Falcons this season, recording two interceptions, three passes defensed and 90 tackles (fourth on the team).
Avril ranked tied for third in the NFL with five forced fumbles and tied for sixth with 11.5 sacks (second-most among linemen). The defensive end tallied 39 tackles and three passes defensed while starting all 16 games for the Seahawks.
Brown played in all 16 games, making nine starts, as a rookie cornerback for the Cowboys. He amassed 55 tackles (fifth on the team), nine passes defensed (11th among NFL rookies), one interception and one forced fumble.
Hunt rushed for 109 yards on just 20 carries (5.5 average) in eight games for the Texans. He also had three receptions for 29 yards (9.7 average) and returned nine kickoffs for a 21.6-yard average.
Ninkovich started 11 of the 12 games he played in for the Patriots, recording 32 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.
Two other Boilermakers - Brandon Cottom (Seattle) and Gabe Holmes (Oakland) - are on their respective team's reserve/injured list.
A Boilermaker has been on a Super Bowl team each of the last 17 seasons, including Avril (XLVIII and XLIX) and Ninkovich (XLVI and XLIX).
Meanwhile, quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints recorded the fifth 5,000-yard passing season of his career, more than all other signal-callers in NFL history combined (one each by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford). Brees' league-leading 5,208 yards this season are the fourth-most in NFL history, and he bettered his own league record with 471 completions. Brees threw 37 touchdown passes.
-- NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2017