The 2017 NFL season is entering the home stretch, but former Ohio State players aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. In Week 12, two Buckeyes (Rod Smith, Nick Vannett) scored their first career touchdowns, DeVier Posey earned MVP honors up North in Canada, and a handful of Scarlet and Gray alumni suited up on Thanksgiving Day.
Don’t forget! Fan voting is now open for the 2018 Pro Bowl, and there are 20 Buckeyes you can vote for on the ballot.
Here’s how Buckeyes in the NFL fared in Week 12:
Playing NFL football on Thanksgiving Day is a tradition, and some will find themselves suiting up on the holiday more than others — the Lions for example are an annual staple of the Turkey Day matchups.
Vikings v. Lions
The first matchup for the Holiday weekend was a cold-weather battle between the Minnesota Vikings (Pat Elflein) and the Detroit Lions (Taylor Decker). Despite QB woes throughout the season, the Vikings managed the win, 30-23.
Decker spent most of the season on IR following shoulder surgery ahead of Week 1, but was activated off PUP two weeks ago and is officially back in the mix. Elflein, even as a rookie, has been a big contributor for the Vikings o-line, and following in the footsteps of the great Buckeye linemen to come before him.
Having played side-by-side during their overlapping time at Ohio State, Elflein and Decker did the obligatory jersey swap following the holiday matchup.
The afternoon game on Thanksgiving featured the most Buckeyes of any holiday game, when the Los Angeles Chargers (Joey Bosa, Cardale Jones) hit the road to take on the Dallas Cowboys (Noah Brown, Mike Nugent, Rod Smith). The Chargers snagged the win, despite a slow start, and left Dallas in the dust, 28-6.
This was the first in over 20 games that Joey Bosa didn’t record a sack, but he did still make four total tackles and kept Dak Prescott and the Cowboys at bay all afternoon.
Dallas running back Rod Smith has stepped up in Ezekiel Elliott’s absence and claimed nine carries for 41 yards and a touchdown — in addition to two receptions for seven yards. It was the only trip into the endzone for Dallas on the day, and Smith’s first career touchdown and career-high carries.
Wideout rookie Noah Brown was active for the matchup but didn’t see any action.
Despite being active last weekend for the first time this season, QB Cardale Jones was once again listed as inactive for the Chargers’ Thanksgiving Day matchup. For the Cowboys, kicker Mike Nugent was inactive on Thursday with the team’s regular booter Dan Bailey coming back from a groin injury.
Giants v. Washington
The primetime matchup to finish up the turkey-day slate of games featured two NFC East rivals, New York (Eli Apple, Curtis Grant) against Washington (Terrelle Pryor, IR). The Giants couldn’t compete, and Washington claimed the win, 20-10.
With Eli Apple inactive for the second week in a row, and Terrelle Pryor headed to IR for Washington, the sole Buckeye to suit up for the primetime Thanksgiving game was linebacker Curtis Grant for the Giants. After snagging two tackles, Grant was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury and missed the remainder of the game.
Vannett’s first career touchdown
In his second season in the NFL, the tight end for the Seattle Seahawks, Nick Vannett, has seen intermittent playing time. Still behind Jimmy Graham on the depth chart, the Buckeye has been primarily used as he was at Ohio State: as a blocker.
Heading into Sunday’s afternoon contest, Vannett had 55 yards on seven receptions in 2017 and 87 yards on 10 catches for his career total. But, as the Russell Wilson-led offense struggled to get things going, he found Vannett in the endzone for the Buckeye’s first career NFL touchdown. He also had a career-high 29 yards on the day.
Tough love in the Big Apple
After missing two games, Giants CB Eli Apple is now in the headlines for reportedly almost walking out on his team, more than once. During film review on Nov. 15, Apple took criticism from his teammates and coaches for his perceived lack of effort during a recent loss, and nearly left the Giants facility.
The team itself hasn’t addressed the reports, but Apple’s absence since then has mostly been related to the brain surgery and recovery of his mom, Annie Apple. She’s posted pictures of him sleeping by her bedside in the hospital, and helping boost her spirits. Not that that it’s an excuse, but if Eli had other things on his mind during the Nov. 15 game, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising.
Not giving him a pass here but the young man is not having a great season, his mother was having surgery and he was getting called out by teammates. Tough week for a young player. He will grow from this, choose understanding over judgement. https://t.co/0G5R3aKtaj— Lawrence Tynes (@lt4kicks) November 26, 2017
Buckeyes revel in Rivalry Week
Most Ohio State alumni took to social media over the past week to engage in some good ole’ fashioned ribbing between rivals — real and Twitter eggs — like here, here and here. Even former head coach Jim Tressel was showing his support for the Buckeyes during Hate Week.
Several former players of the Scarlet and Gray took Beat Michigan Week to their NFL locker rooms, with Rams LS Jake McQuaide partaking in the traditional crossing out of a certain letter, and Malcolm Jenkins making a UM grad wear a Barrett jersey.
NFL veteran and Buckeye legend Malcolm Jenkins joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, during Ohio State’s first run — and win — at the College Football Playoff. Jenkins has a friendly rivalry with teammate and Michigan alumnus Brandon Graham, whose been on the losing end of the bet for the past four installations.
Play of the Week
Honorable CFL mention: DeVier Posey
Things may not have worked out for the former Buckeye receiver in the NFL — after a couple years and a couple of teams — but it seems like DeVier Posey has found his footing in the CFL and is absolutely killing it.
Posey put up 272 receiving yards and zero touchdowns in his three years in the NFL, but already has four games with over 100 receiving yards in his season and a half in the CFL. In 2017 alone, Posey amassed 744 yards and seven touchdowns.
On Sunday, he was named Grey Cup MVP after a game that early-on, included a 100-yard touchdown and a CFL record.
Former Buckeye DeVier Posey catches a 100-yard touchdown pass in Canada’s Grey Cup. Longest catch in Grey Cup history. pic.twitter.com/JSJ5JnhUhO— Kevin Harrish (@Kevinish) November 27, 2017
- This week’s Monday Night Football matchup once again features just one Buckeye, when the Houston Texans (Braxton Miller) take on the Baltimore Ravens.
- Jets LB Darron Lee has seen a big improvement from his rookie season to Year 2, and continues to add to his career-high sacks on the season -- claiming his third on Sunday.
- The Saints took a surprising “L” to the Rams on Sunday after an eight-game winning streak, but just because the team didn’t win, doesn’t mean Buckeyes didn’t have a great game. Super veteran WR Ted Ginn Jr. had his third highest receiving yards of the season with 71 yards, and safety Vonn Bell had his second-most tackles of the season (and career) with 11 — this just a week after his career-high 13 tackle performance.
- The Steelers (Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier) took on the Green Bay Packers (Corey Linsley) on Sunday Night Football, and Buckeye Cam Heyward had himself a day, with six total tackles and 2.0 sacks.
Cameron Heyward had 2 sacks tonight pic.twitter.com/vzYjv2tJqc— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 27, 2017
Injury Report and Inactives
- Another week, another Buckeye headed to IR, this time wide out Terrelle Pryor Sr. who will miss the remainder of Washington’s season and will undergo ankle surgery.
- Other Buckeyes to miss action in Week 12 were rookie Marshon Lattimore for the Saints (ankle) and TE Jeff Heuerman for the Broncos (knee).
- After missing three games due to a lingering neck stinger, linebacker John Simon was back in action this week for the Colts.
- Patriots’ special teamer Nate Ebner helped his squad on Sunday, carrying the ball after a fake punt, but was subsequently injured on the play and missed the remainder of the game.