Numerous Falcons, Patriots players participating in Super Bowl LI have Texas heritage

Numerous Falcons, Patriots players participating in Super Bowl LI have Texas heritage

It’s only fitting the Super Bowl is being held in Houston, Texas this season. This will be the fourth time the Lone Star State has hosted the Super Bowl.

The last time Houston hosted the big game, the Patriots triumphed in a wild last-second 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. While neither of the Texas professional football teams will be participating in Super Bowl LI, there will be no shortage players from both the Falcons and Patriots who have ties to Texas in this game.

Falcons Players With Texas Roots:

Jonathan Babineaux, DT

Photo courtesy of ESPN.

High School: Port Arthur Memorial Sr. High School (PAM)

Place of Birth: Port Arthur, Texas

Babineaux has been an important member of the Falcons’ front seven since he entered the league in 2005. At 35 years old, this may be his last shot to earn a ring for his efforts. He recorded three tackles and a sack in Atlanta’s convincing 36-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks to help the Falcons advance to the NFC title game this season. Will he be able to help pressure Tom Brady and shut down the Patriots’ quietly dominant run game?

Matt Bryant, K

Photo via FOX News.

College: Baylor University

High School: Bridge City High School

Place of Birth: Orange, Texas

Kickers are undervalued in the league and Bryant may have to opportunity to prove this in Super Bowl LI. There is a chance this game will be a shootout and could be decided by a game-winning field goal. The last time Bryant had to kick a game-winner in the postseason, he converted on a 49-yard field goal to send Atlanta to the NFC title game during the 2012 postseason. Will Bryant be able to deliver on the game’s biggest stage if his number is called?

Taylor Gabriel, WR

Photo courtesy of NESN.

College: Abilene Christian University

High School: John Horn High School

Place of Birth: Mesquite, Texas

Although Julio Jones gets the vast majority of the limelight in Atlanta’s receiving corps, Gabriel has made a name for himself in his first season with the Falcons. His most impressive performance in 2016 came in Week 12 when he caught four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals as the Falcons would go on to win by a score of 38-19. Gabriel finished the regular season with 35 catches for 579 yards and six scores. He could be a bigger factor to the outcome of Super Bowl LI than many people may realize.

Jake Matthews, T

Photo via the Bleacher Report.

College: Texas A&M University

High School: Elkins High School (Missouri City)

Place of Birth: Missouri City, Texas

Matthews has quite the reputation to live up to. He is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and the cousin of Super Bowl XLV champion Clay Matthews III. Matthews has been in charge of protecting MVP candidate Matt Ryan’s blind side and is one of the core reasons behind Atlanta’s offensive success this season. Will he be able to neutralize New England’s pass rushers in the Super Bowl?

Aldrick Robinson, WR

Photo via ESPN.

College: Southern Methodist University

High School: Waxahachie High School

Place of Birth: Dallas, Texas

Robinson hasn’t seen a whole lot of action this season, but he has shown flashes of potential during his first season with the Falcons. He eclipsed 100 yards receiving against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15, which was his best performance of the 2016 season. However, he hasn’t had much of an impact in the postseason, having yet to catch a pass. Robinson could be a wild card player for Atlanta in the Super Bowl just like Chris Matthews was for the Seahawks two years ago in Super Bowl XLIX.

Patriots Players With Texas Roots:

Danny Amendola, WR

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe.

College: Texas Tech University

High School: The Woodlands High School

Place of Birth: The Woodlands, Texas

For the second time in three seasons, Amendola will be participating in the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XLIX, Amendola caught five passes for 48 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots squeaked out a 28-24 victory.

Martellus Bennett, TE

Photo via Sporting News.

College: Texas A&M University

High School: Alief Taylor High School

When Rob Gronkowski went down with a back injury, which landed him on the IR and effectively ended his season, Bennett picked up the slack and the Pats didn’t miss a beat. Bennett can do everything Gronk can at a slightly lower level and can be a serious mismatch for Atlanta’s secondary. Bennett caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2016 regular season.

Malcom Brown, DT

Malcom Brown
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

College: University of Texas at Austin

High School: Brenham High School

Place of Birth: Brenham, Texas

In 2015, New England used their first-round pick on Brown to help fill the void left by Vince Wilfork after he bolted for the Texans in free agency. Brown rewarded the Patriots for their investment and immediately made his presence felt on the Pats’ defensive line. He collected 10 total tackles and a sack against the Texans and Steelers in the postseason.

Marcus Cannon, T

Photo via ESPN.

College: Texas Christian University

High School: Odessa High School

Place of Birth: Odessa, Texas

Cannon has made significant improvements to his play in 2016 and became the starting right tackle after Sebastian Vollmer fell victim to injury. He will be responsible for helping allow Brady to have enough time to find receivers and for opening up holes for Blount to run through. His primary opponent in the Super Bowl will be Vic Beasley, but Cannon needs to be ready for whatever Altanta’s defense throws at him. The Patriots need a solid performance from Cannon if they want to host a fifth Lombardi.

Cameron Fleming, T

Photo courtesy of NESN.

High School: Cypress Creek High School

Place of Birth: Fort Hood, Texas

Fleming played in all 16 regular-season games in 2016 with five starts. He is primarily used as a reserve tackle and checks in as an extra blocker on some plays. He won Super Bowl XLIX with the Pats in his rookie season.

Elandon Roberts, LB

Photo via ESPN.

College: University of Houston

High School: Port Arthur Memorial Sr. High School (PAM)

Place of Birth: Port Arthur, Texas

While most people thought Bill Belichick was out of his mind for trading Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns, Roberts proved Belichick knew what he was doing. After all, blowing up All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, something Roberts did in Week 5, is a feat not many players have been able to accomplish. In his rookie campaign, Roberts registered 45 total tackles and a forced fumble.

Eric Rowe, CB

Photo courtesy of ESPN.

High School: Klein High School

Rowe, who was traded to the Patriots in 2016, has emerged as a valuable member to New England’s secondary, much to the chargen of the Eagles, who gave him away after only one season. In the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, he recorded four total tackles and an interception to help the Pats win by a score of 36-17.

LaAdrian Waddle, T

Photo via The Boston Globe.

College: Texas Tech University

High School: Columbus High School

Place of Birth: College Station, Texas

A backup is only one play away from being a starter. If one of the Patriots’ tackles goes down in the Super Bowl, Waddle will need to be ready to play or New England could be in trouble. Waddle has started in 24 games in his career, so he has some experience under his belt.

Update: Waddle was listed as inactive for Super Bowl LI.

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