First order of business, on behalf of us here at LGHL, we would like to congratulate former Buckeyes Antoine Winfield and Chris Gamble on their excellent careers in the NFL. Winfield signed with the Seahawks in the offseason, but he decided that he would call it a career in lieu of being cut (though there's been murmurs he might unretire to join his former team, the Vikings). Gamble decided, after multiple shoulder injuries, that he would himself end his career. Gamble closes his NFL stint as the Panthers' career leader in interceptions with 54. We commend both of these former scarlet and gray greats on their excellent NFL careers, and wish them the best going forward.
We'll start on what happened Thursday night in the opener. Baltimore was overwhelmed in the second half by Peyton Manning's laser accuracy. This, of course, was no fault of OLB John Simon, who was inactive for the game. On the other side, guard Justin Boren is on Denver's reserve/injured list.
Jaguars guard/center Michael Brewster was on the wrong side of a blowout to the Chiefs, but did get some run. He currently backs up grizzled veteran Brad Meester, and could see time at guard this year as well.
Coincidentally enough, the Panthers and Seahawks matched up this weekend after the two Buckeye corners retired from their respective teams. Carolina still has two former Buckeyes on the roster and two of them were in action this week. Returner/WR Ted Ginn Jr. is still hanging around the league, and he made a catch for 10 yards, along with a punt return for 10. Ben Hartsock is a backup tight end, and is second on the depth chart, but failed to make a catch today against a tough Seahawks defense. Anderson Russell, the former Buckeye safety/punching bag, was released by the Panthers just before the season started with an injury settlement.
Perhaps the best game of the day of all the former Scarlet and Gray denizens came from Miami wideout Brian Hartline, who has become a regular fixture in the weekly recaps. Hartline hurt his home state Browns with 9 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, with a whopping 15 targets, in a 23-10 victory.
For the first time in a long, long time, a Buckeye quarterback was not a starter out of necessity, but actually won the starting job out of training camp. Terrelle Pryor had a good game against Indianapolis, as he was his team's leading rusher (13 carries for 112 yards) and also threw for 217 yards and a touchdown. Most unfortunately, he threw two picks in the red zone, one which was a back-breaker with 25 seconds left at the Colts 4. Pryor definitely gave the Raiders a chance to win - unfortunately, he was also the ultimate reason they lost. Chimdi Chekwa also is a Raider, but did not record a statistic against Indy.
The Bengals lost a heartbreaker to the Bears – discipline, or lack thereof, was a huge factor in the loss, as well as turnovers and a couple of unlucky bounces – but Mike Nugent was not to blame, as he booted three extra points and made Devin Hester a non-factor on kickoffs. Dane Sanzenbacher was a healthy scratch for the Bengals.
After all the madness that was the New York Jets' off season, they got a victory against the Buccaneers, and for the first time in nearly a year, Santonio Holmes was part of that victory. Holmes made a catch for 13 yards, and stud center Nick Mangold held the Buccaneers' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in check, limiting McCoy to 1 solo tackle. The Jets won on a late field goal. Mangold missed some time in the contest due to an arm injury (believed to be elbow related), but returned later in the game.
All the AFC North teams had rough weeks, but none more so than Mike Adams and the rest of the Pittsburgh offensive line. The Steelers could not get anything going at all, and Adams had a forgettable game, contributing to a 5-sack day by the Titans defense. On the defensive side for Pittsburgh, Cameron Heyward made a tackle and spent most of his day eating up blocks to free up the rest of the linebackers to make tackles.
Moving to the NFC, Rob Sims' Lions got a nice win against the Minnesota Vikings, and Sims started at guard, trying to hold the Vikes' formidable D-line in check. Sims had a good day paving the way for star running back Reggie Bush, and the Lions came away with a win. He and the rest of the Detroit O-line are trying to improve on a year where they had the lowest adjusted sack rate in the NFL, per Football Outsiders.
On to another big NFC matchup - Malcolm Jenkins' Saints defeated the Falcons at home, 23-17. Jenkins led the Saints in tackles with 6 (4 solo). Will Smith, former Buckeye d-lineman turned Saints linebacker in their new 3-4, is currently on injured reserve and will not play this season.
The St. Louis Rams seem to always have some former Buckeyes on the roster, and James Laurinaitis remains their mainstay at middle linebacker. He finished second on the team with six solo tackles, and had a pass breakup as well as a hit on Carson Palmer. Long snapper Jake McQuaide appeared in a "Dude Perfect" video in the offseason, remained near perfect on long snaps. McQuaide snapped the ball that kicker Greg Zuerlein booted through the uprights to win the game against the Cardinals.
The biggest game of the day also had the most Buckeyes on the field at the same time. The Packers and 49ers played down to the wire, and defensive players on both sides piled up tackles. For the losing Packers, AJ Hawk made six solo stops (9 total) and had a tackle for loss, but also whiffed on two separate occasions trying to tackle Frank Gore on the 49ers' closeout drive. Ryan Pickett made three stops, one for loss, from his 3-technique / defensive tackle spot. For the Niners, Donte Whitner starred at safety. Although he was beaten for a touchdown by Green Bay's Jermichael Finley, he made seven tackles and had a pass defensed, as well as a critical tackle of a Packer receiver in bounds to keep the clock moving. The Packers simply ran out of time, and the Niners got the victory. As usual, guard Alex Boone played well, but mostly pass blocked until down the stretch. He also found himself in the middle of a scrum after a dirty hit by Clay Matthews on Niners QB Colin Kaepernick.
Sunday night's game featured three Buckeyes, though Jim Cordle and big Johnathan Hankins were both inactive. Because of injury, safety Will Allen, who signed recently with the Cowboys, started at free safety and recorded an early interception of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Allen finished the night with 3 tackles (2 of them solo) and 2 passes defended in Dallas' 36-31 season opening win.
Some Buckeyes have yet to appear in games, as they play on Monday night. It's not clear whether any of the above will get snaps, but the Redskins employ tackle Doug Worthington (currently on the reserve/injured list) and the Eagles may give backup safety Kurt Coleman some time on special teams, since Patrick Chung beat him out for the starting job. The Chargers have no Buckeyes, though Houston has receiver DeVier Posey, who since recovering from a brutal Achilles injury hasn't seen a lot of time for the Texans, but is listed as probable.