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Pair of ex-Bainbridge stars turn heads during NFL preseason

Former Bainbridge stars Darryl Gamble, left, and Ray Dominguez appear to be making the most of the NFL opportunities in preseason. Gamble is currently with the San Diego Chargers in preseason camp, while Dominguez is trying to make the 53-man roster for the Green Bay Packers.

Former Bainbridge stars Darryl Gamble, left, and Ray Dominguez appear to be making the most of the NFL opportunities in preseason. Gamble is currently with the San Diego Chargers in preseason camp, while Dominguez is trying to make the 53-man roster for the Green Bay Packers.

Making the final 53-man roster in the NFL is as tough as it gets for an aspiring pro football player.

But former Bainbridge stars Darryl Gamble and Ray Dominguez appear to be getting close.

Gamble, who starred at the University of Georgia, was invited to the San Diego Chargers' preseason camp as an undrafted rookie and had a whale of a game in their first preseason outing last week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Gamble had eight tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss, causing Chargers head coach Norv Turner to rave about the former UGA standout linebacker.

"(With Gamble), what we are seeing is a guy stepping up and showing us something every day," Turner told Yahoo! Sports. "The great thing is when the quality you see in practice shows up in the game."

And despite the Chargers being loaded with several defensive stars and undrafted free-agents at linebacker, Turner said the chances of Gamble making the team are good.

"As I told our guys the night before the game, all you have to do is look around our room and see the number of guys who came in undrafted and crafted a successful NFL career," Turner told Yahoo!. "There were a number of important guys on the team who were Darryl Gamble when they got here."

Gamble, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 245 pounds, says he thinks he's shown enough already to warrant a spot on the roster.

"I felt I did pretty well because I knew what I could do," Gamble told Yahoo!. "I was just ready to show everybody else that I could do it. I have the type of mentality, whether if it's on special teams or on defense. I'm ready to play whenever and wherever I'm needed."

Dominguez, meanwhile, is locked in a battle for one of the final spots on the Green Bay Packers' 53-man roster, which has to be turned into the NFL by Sept. 3. Dominiguez is a former star offensive lineman for Bainbridge and Arkansas, and was invited to the Packers' preseason camp as an undrafted rookie. And according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Dominguez is one of those guys on the fence as cut-down day approaches.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel writes of Dominguez: "(Packers coach) Mike McCarthy has opened four of the last five seasons with nine O-linemen. Based on what's here, it's quite likely just nine will stick. That No. 9 berth appears to be between Caleb Schlauderaff and Dominguez. A sixth-round draft choice, Schlauderaff is smart and persistent but doesn't play with strength. Dominguez, a free agent from Arkansas, has lost 10 pounds, a key to his improvement. Unlike Schlauderaff, he played tackle in college and probably can play there in the NFL. In flashes, Dominguez has shown potential."

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There are two other former Bearcats already firmly entrenched with their NFL teams.

Defensive back James Butler, who won a Super Bowl ring three years ago with the New York Giants, is currently listed as the backup on the St. Louis Rams' depth chart. Butler, a former Georgia Tech star, lost his starting job around midseason last year and seemed likely to be waived this year, but then agreed to take a pay cut and restructured his contract -- and that appears to have saved his job, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Butler recorded two interceptions and 20 tackles for the Rams last season in just seven games before being benched in Week 8.

Another former Bainbridge star, Malcolm Sheppard, who played at Arkansas on the defensive line, is currently in camp with the Tennessee Titans.

Sheppard was originally signed by the Houston Texas as a rookie free agent last year and was mostly a practice squad player until the Texans signed him to the active duty roster in October.

But after a month, the Texans demoted him back to their practice squad, where he was then signed by the Tennessee Titans in November of 2010. Sheppard appeared in the Titans' final three regular-season games, tallying a total of five tackles. He is expected to be kept on the Titans' 53-man roster when the team turns it into NFL headquarters Sept. 3, according to several Titans insiders.