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Halfway through the NFL season, Ohio State rookies still finding their footing

Let's see how the Buckeye rookies are faring at the next level halfway through the season.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The season started with 45 former Buckeyes in the NFL; following roster cut deadlines and injuries, that number is now only 34, with two additional players on practice squads. Of the nine rookies, more than half didn't make a team's final 53-man active roster; three of the four players that did make a roster were ones invited to the NFL Combine early in 2015.

Devin Smith

The first Buckeye taken in the draft was Devin Smith (WR) by the Jets in the second round. He was sidelined with a few broken ribs for most of the preseason and finally made his regular season debut in Week 3. Since then, he's played in four games, started two, and has only recorded 60 yards on six receptions all season. He was sidelined this week with an ankle injury, but shouldn't be out long.

He's had several interceptions as a target, which could be a factor in his limited looks since early on. The coaching staff also has withdrawn some of the special teams work he was initially pegged to perform. Having missed the entire preseason, he missed a lot of critical scheme work required to succeed.

Michael Bennett

It was surprising when Michael Bennett (DT) slid all the way to the sixth round of the draft, finally taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has only recorded five combined tackles and 0.5 sacks in the regular season, and in Week 7 only played a season-low five snaps. His role has been cut back with other players returning from injury.

Jeff Heuerman

The Denver Broncos stood by their third round draft pick, even after Jeff Heuerman (TE) went out during rookie camp with a torn ACL. Heuerman will miss his entire rookie season, but is expected to be ready to go in 2016. The coaching staff is excited to get him back on the field.

Rod Smith

Dallas by way of Seattle, Rod Smith (RB) could be a big contributor on offense for the Cowboys. They are thin at the position and Smith showed good reading ability during the preseason as a Seahawk. Smith had issues throughout his time at Ohio State and was ultimately dismissed early in the 2014 national championship season; that didn't stop him from making his dreams of playing football come true.

Practice squad players

The Steelers drafted Doran Grant (CB) in the fourth round, and despite making the final 53-man roster, was sacrificed in a whirlwind of trades and changes at the cornerback position and ended up with a spot on the practice squad. The secondary is one of Pittsburgh's weaker positions, so Grant could see his chance to shine ahead of next season.

Evan Spencer (WR) got the call he was drafted by Washington from his brother, but the rest of time spent with the team wasn't as touching. He had a good preseason that ended with a concussion in the third week; the team waived him due to injury during the final round of roster cuts. The wideout pursued an injury settlement which opened him up as a free agent; he was signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad and could be on the other end of a Jameis Winston pass in no time.

Looking for work

Some of these players might get a shot to tryout for a team heading into the playoffs or during free agency, their career isn't over just because they missed out on their first season.

Darryl Baldwin (OT) looked like he might make the Ravens roster, but missed the cut, similar to Steve Miller (DE) with the PanthersCurtis Grant (LB) had a good preseason with the Chargers, even signing a 3-year deal as an undrafted free agent, but ultimately was released before the season.

Non-rookies without a team

Terrelle Pryor was on three teams within one calendar year, switched from quarterback to receiver and still was waived by the Browns even after making the final round of cuts. He played 17 snaps in the preseason and battled hamstring issues during camps; he hasn't given up on having a long career as an NFL player.

DeVier Posey (WR) was shuffled between teams during free agency after the Texans traded him to the Jets during the draft. Posey was outplayed by several receivers in camp and was subsequently part of the team's roster cuts early.

Other players without a team include Bryant Browning (G), Mike Brewster (C) and Chimdi Chekwa (CB).