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Former Illini and area standouts in NFL: Postseason

Jan. 14—Trent Sherfield had one of the plays of the season for the Bills, Chase McLaughlin keyed the Buccaneers in an NFC South-clinching win and Del'Shawn Phillips made the most of his starting opportunity for the Ravens. With the playoffs getting underway this week starting with the wild-card round, N-G sports staffer Joe Vozzelli offers his final update of the 2023 season on each former Illini and one former area high school standout:

Tony Adams

New York Jets

Looking back: Adams started at free safety and finished the 2023 season strong with an interception of New England quarterback Bailey Zappe, adding two tackles and two passes defended while playing all 57 of his team's defensive snaps in New York's 17-3 victory last Sunday against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

What's next: The Jets (7-10) missed out on the postseason for a 13th straight season and enter the offseason with Adams producing 55 tackles and three interceptions this past season.

Nick Allegretti

Kansas City Chiefs

Looking back: The offensive lineman started at center with Kansas City coach Andy Reid opting to rest his starters and Allegretti participated on all 58 of the Chiefs' offensive snaps in a 13-12 road victory last Sunday against the Chargers.

What's next: The Chiefs (11-6) will host the Dolphins (11-6) in an AFC wild-card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Chase Brown

Cincinnati Bengals

Looking back: The running back posted a season-best 11 carries for 43 yards and caught one pass for 10 yards in Cincinnati's 31-14 home win against the Browns last Sunday. Brown played 38 snaps with 18 on offense and 20 on special teams, where he returned two kickoffs for 44 yards and made one tackle.

What's next: Cincinnati (9-8) failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2020 with Brown the clear No. 2 running back behind starter Joe Mixon, who is under contract through the 2024 season but is owed a $3 million roster bonus on March 16.

Sydney Brown

Philadelphia Eagles

Looking back: The defensive back started at safety and played two snaps on defense and two snaps on special teams before he injured his knee in Philadelphia's 27-10 loss this past Sunday to the Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.

What's next: The Eagles (11-6) will face the Buccaneers (9-8) in an NFC wild-card game at 7:15 p.m. on Monday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Brown won't play, however, after his promising season ended after he was diagnosed with a torn ACL. Brown had 45 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and three pass defended this season.

Tommy DeVito

New York Giants

Looking back: The undrafted quarterback played four snaps and completed two passes for 14 yards as the backup to starter Tyrod Taylor as New York rolled to a 27-10 home victory against the Eagles last Sunday.

What's next: DeVito and the Giants start the offseason after producing a 6-11 record. DeVito threw for 1,101 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions in nine games.

Kendrick Green

Houston Texans

Looking back: The offensive lineman is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

What's next: The Texans (10-7) return to the playoffs for the first time since 2019 and will face the Browns (11-6) in the AFC wild-card round at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Jake Hansen

Houston Texans

Looking back: The second-year linebacker recorded one tackle on special teams during his 25 snaps on that unit in the Texans' 23-19 victory last Saturday against the Colts in Indianapolis that clinched a playoff berth.

What's next: The Texans (10-7) are the conference's No. 4 seed after winning the AFC South title for the seventh time in the team's 21-year history, with the Browns (11-6) on tap in the wild-card round at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Houston.

Justin Hardee

New York Jets

Looking back: The veteran cornerback logged 24 snaps on special teams in New York's 17-3 road victory this past Sunday against the Patriots.

What's next: The Jets (7-10) turn their attention to the offseason.

Nate Hobbs

Las Vegas Raiders

Looking back: Hobbs started at cornerback and played all 61 of Las Vegas' defensive snaps while tallying two tackles in the Raiders' 27-14 home victory last Sunday against the rival Broncos.

What's next: The Raiders (8-9) missed out on the postseason for a second straight year, but Hobbs delivered a career-high 86 tackles in his third NFL season.

Kerby Joseph

Detroit Lions

Looking back: The defensive back started at free safety and produced five tackles on in Detroit's 30-20 victory against the Vikings last Sunday.

What's next: The Lions (12-5) will be looking for their first playoff win since 1992 after tying a franchise record with 12 regular-season wins. Detroit hosts the Rams (10-7) for 7 p.m. kick on Sunday in an NFC wild-card matchup.

Ted Karras

Cincinnati Bengals

Looking back: Cincinnati's starting center played 52 snaps as the Bengals went on to earn a season-ending 31-14 home win against the Browns last Sunday.

What's next: Cincinnati (9-8) will head into the offseason after finishing last in the AFC North.

Doug Kramer

Chicago Bears

Looking back: With an injury to center Lucas Patrick, Chicago flexed Kramer up to their game-day roster and the offensive lineman participated on three special teams snaps in the Bears' 17-9 loss against the Packers last Sunday in Green Bay, Wis.

What's next: The Bears failed to reach the playoffs for a third straight season after going 7-10 and are making changes to the offensive staff with Matt Eberflus firing four assistant coaches. Eberflus will, however, return for a third season in Chicago.

Vederian Lowe

New England Patriots

What's next: The second-year offensive lineman started at left tackle and played 49 offensive snaps, plus one on special teams, in the Patriots' 17-3 home loss to the Jets this past Sunday.

What's next: New England (4-13) will start the Jerod Mayo era after Bill Belichick and the Patriots parted ways.

Quan Martin

Washington Commanders

What's next: The defensive back started for Washington, produced four tackles, intercepted a Dak Prescott pass and played 33 snaps in a 38-10 home loss to the Cowboys in Landover, Md. this past Sunday.

What's next: The Commanders (4-13) are also searching for a new coach after Washington owner Josh Harris fired Ron Rivera on Monday.

Chase McLaughlin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What's next: The veteran place-kicker scored all of Buccaneers' points, making field goals from 36 yards, 39 yards and 57 yards in Tampa Bay's 9-0 NFC South-clinching win against the Panthers this past Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

What's next: Tampa Bay (9-8) will host the struggling Eagles (11-6) in an NFC wild-card playoff matchup at 7:15 p.m. on Monday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Alex Palczewski

Denver Broncos

What's next: The offensive lineman was on the active game-day roster for the first time this season but did not play in Denver's season-ending 27-14 loss to the Raiders last Sunday in Las Vegas.

What's next: Palczewski will look to put his injury-plagued 2023 season behind him with the Broncos entering the offseason after recording an 8-9 record.

Del'Shawn Phillips

Baltimore Ravens

What's next: The linebacker started and accounted for a team-high 13 tackles, including one tackle for loss and also forcing a fumble, in the Ravens' 17-10 home loss to the Steelers last Saturday. Phillips played 65 snaps, with 47 on defense and 18 on special teams.

What's next: Baltimore (13-4) has a bye week as the AFC's No. 1 seed before playing in the divisional round on the weekend of Jan. 20 and Jan. 21.

Trent Sherfield

Buffalo Bills

What's next: The wide receiver from Danville had one of the can't-miss plays in Week 18 after a spectacular toe-tapping grab in the back of the end zone following a wild deflection at the line of scrimmage for a six-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter of Buffalo's 21-14 road victory against the Dolphins last Sunday. Sherfield had three receptions for 24 yards.

What's next: Buffalo (11-6) is the No. 2 seed in the AFC and will face the Steelers (10-7) at noon this Sunday at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. in the wild-card round.

Dawuane Smoot

Jacksonville Jaguars

What's next: The defensive end/outside linebacker saw limited action with 16 defensive snaps and had one quarterback hit in Jacksonville's 28-20 loss to the Titans this past Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

What's next: The Jaguars (9-8) now start the offseason.

Jihad Ward

New York Giants

What's next: The defensive end had one tackle, one sack and forced a fumble in a 27-10 home win by the Giants against the Eagles last Sunday.

What's next: New York (6-11) will have a new defensive coordinator in 2024 with Wink Martindale no longer on the staff.

Devon Witherspoon

Seattle Seahawks

What's next: The cornerback produced 11 tackles, including three for loss, on 69 defensive snaps in Seattle's season-ending 21-20 road victory against the Cardinals last Sunday.

What's next: Witherspoon, who will play in the Pro Bowl Games next month in Miami, finished with 56 tackles and 16 passes defended in 14 games during his rookie season, but won't have Pete Carroll as his coach next season.