The NFL season begins next week, and Palmer's Junior Aumavae moved one step closer to being part of the action when he made the New York Jets' 75-man roster Tuesday.
NFL teams made their first round of preseason cuts Tuesday, with the second and final round coming Saturday. Aumavae, a 6-foot-2, 310-pound nose tackle, needs to make the final 53-man roster to realize his dream of becoming the 11th NFL player from Alaska.
Aumavae, 27, made the box score in the Jets' first three preseason games. He recorded an assist on a tackle in last weekend's 24-21 preseason victory over the New York Giants to raise his tackle total to four.
If he survives the final cut, Aumavae will give Alaska four players in the NFL, joining North Pole's Daryn Colledge (Arizona Cardinals), Dimond High graduate Chris Kuper (Denver Broncos) and Bartlett grad Zack Bowman (Chicago Bears).
Aumavae was close to making an NFL squad once before -- in 2010, he made the 75-man roster with the Dallas Cowboys. He helped Palmer win a Railbelt Conference title in 2003, played NCAA Division II football with Western Washington and Minnesota State-Mankato and spent time in the Arena Football League with the Green Bay Blizzard.
Colledge started the last 32 games at left guard for the Arizona Cardinals and will continue to do so this season after a plan to move him to right guard went awry because of an injury to rookie teammate and first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper.
Bowman is the third cornerback and a special teams player for the Bears. He's nursing a right hamstring injury suffered last weekend in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. In 2009, Bowman started 12 games with the Bears and recorded a team-high six interceptions, the fourth most in the NFC that season.
Kuper, an offensive lineman with the Broncos since being drafted in 2006, recently restructured his contract. The new contract will allow Kuper to focus on recovery from multiple ankle surgeries by guaranteeing him $1.05 million this season. He was scheduled to make $4.5 million this season, none of which was guaranteed. An additional $1.7 million is available for Kuper to earn through playing incentives, if he is able to return from the injured reserve list this season.
Only 10 Alaskans have played in the NFL, an elite group that also includes Mao Tosi, Reggie Tongue, Travis Hall, Shane Bonham, Mark Schlereth, Tom Neville and Rocky Klever.