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Duke in the NFL: 2 Former Blue Devils on conference championship game rosters

Former Duke football guard Laken Tomlinson is one win away from his second Super Bowl appearance in three years.
Former Duke football guard Laken Tomlinson is one win away from his second Super Bowl appearance in three years.

With just four teams left standing entering championship weekend, the Blue Zone takes a look at who is left to represent the Blue Devils as the lights get brighter and brighter:

Lucas Patrick, G, Green Bay Packers and Laken Tomlinson, G, San Francisco 49ers

Both former Duke guards struggled to keep the pocket clean as their teams played against each other in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Packers’ offensive line, even though it was in much better shape injury-wise compared to the regular season, did not hold up well against a loaded 49ers defensive line. Lucas Patrick and the Packers' offensive line allowed five sacks and six quarterback hits on Aaron Rodgers, more than double the season average of two sacks coming into the game. The Packers offense suffered through the effects of a sloppy pocket especially in the second half, only logging 58 total offensive yards in their 13-10 loss.

Laken Tomlinson and the 49ers’ offensive line struggled as well, allowing four sacks and a whopping seven quarterback hits throughout the game. With the 49ers gritting out a win on the back of the special teams unit, they move on to the NFC Championship where they will face Mathew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night.

Noah Gray, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Rookie tight end Noah Gray saw an increased role this time around, making his first career receptions in the postseason. Throughout the game, Gray was targeted twice and caught both passes—an eight yard reception on a comeback route and another six yard diving catch on play action. Gray and veteran tight end Blake Bell played around the same number of offensive snaps (20% and 21%, respectively), a good indication of the Chiefs' increasing trust in the rookie and his growing involvement in their gameplan behind Travis Kelce. With a thrilling overtime win over the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs will face star quarterback-receiver duo Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase and the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship in the early game Sunday. 

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