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Former Ohio State interception-magnet Malik Hooker finally made his NFL debut for the Indianapolis Colts

Full recap of the NFL Buckeyes in Week 1 of the preseason.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is just weeks away, but several former Ohio State stars suited up for their first taste of life in the league. More than a few Buckeyes missed out on Week 1 of the preseason due to injuries -- or suspension — but there were quite a few who found the spotlight.

Colts finally get a healthy Malik Hooker

After missing out on the NFL Combine, OTAs and rookie camp, former Ohio State interception-magnet Malik Hooker finally suited up for the Colts. He was activated off of the PUP list just two weeks ago, and finished his first contest with four solo tackles in the first half of his first preseason game.

Of the five Buckeyes currently on the Colts’ roster, three were newly acquired in the offseason. Tvyis Powell might be the one most vigorously fighting for a spot on the final 53-man roster (recording one assisted tackle in Week 1), with Johnathan Hankins and John Simon expected to be long-term answers for Indianapolis.

Simon pretty much assured himself on the final roster with this interception against Matthew Stafford. The linebacker has been an up-and-coming defender the past few seasons, and could finally get his chance to shine on a defense that doesn’t include names like J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

Year 3 players trying to survive in the NFL

The 2015 NFL Draft class out of Ohio State was full of promise, but heading into their third season in the league, are looking toward some make-or-break seasons.

DT Michael Bennett was drafted in Round 6 to the Jaguars, and played in 13 games his rookie season, recording 10 total tackles and 0.5 sack. After sustaining a calf injury during the 2016 preseason, he spent the rest of his second year on IR. The tackle hasn’t had quite the production that the team was expecting when he was coming out of Ohio State, and he needs to make a spot for himself on the depth chart.

Bennett’s Buckeye teammate and draft-mate CB Doran Grant also found himself with Jacksonville this offseason. After being drafted in Round 4 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Grant has spent the last few seasons bouncing from team-to-team and from practice squad-to-active roster. Once again, he’s looking for a place on the Jags’ 53-man roster, but he’s running out of practice squad eligibility — quickly.

After missing his rookie season due to an injury sustained just after the draft, TE Jeff Heuerman needs a big year in Denver to keep his spot on the roster. His second season with the team resulted in only nine catches on 17 targets for 141 yards. Not for nothing, he averaged 15.7 yards per catch and could be the Broncos’ deep threat if he can maintain some form of consistency — which he has yet to do, even into the 2017 preseason.

Mike Nugent is hanging in there

After spending the end of the 2016 regular season at home, without a team, the Buckeye legend was finally signed just ahead of training camp by the New York Giants. Heading into his 13th (!) season in the NFL, Nugent went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts in Week 1 of the preseason, and had three kick-offs averaging 66.7 yards.

The Chargers have quite the Buckeye collection

With the recent addition of quarterback Cardale Jones from Buffalo, the Los Angeles Chargers have added a familiar face for defenders Joey Bosa and Joshua Perry to practice against.

Jones is expected to be a long-term solution for the Chargers, and in Week 1 of the preseason, has started his campaign for the No. 2 spot, over current backup Kellen Clemens. Despite confirming he has a strong arm, the QB did struggle in his first game for Los Angeles, completing only 2-of-9 passes for 50 yards, with an additional 18 yards off two rushes.

Bosa saw some snaps early on in the first preseason game, made two tackles, and showed that alongside Melvin Ingram, the Chargers could have one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the NFL. Perry likewise snagged a tackle, as he tries to earn more defense snaps to add to his repertoire on special teams.

The Saints receivers are Buckeye legends

The Saints are one of the NFL teams with the most Buckeye talent on roster. Wideout Michael Thomas picked up in Year 2 exactly where he left off after his rookie season — ready to win some post-season awards. He snagged 17 yards off of two catches in the first preseason game, and is securely the starter at his position.

The team added another Buckeye receiver this offseason, Ted Ginn Jr., who was signed in free agency from the Panthers. Ginn has had a roller coaster of a career, including years where he was used solely in the return game and others where he was a consistent deep threat for a burgeoning offense. He was brought in to New Orleans for the latter, but unfortunately, his sole target during the Week 1 preseason game was dropped in the endzone for what would have been an uncontested score.

Quick hits

  • Steelers’ DE Cam Heyward spent the second-half of the 2016 season on IR, but was still a visible leader on the sideline. Eager to get back to the field, the Buckeye wanted to snag as many snaps as he could get, and even managed to bat down a pass early in the game.
  • The Buffalo Bills have been making some head-scratching moves over the past week, most notably sending wideout Sammy Watkins to the Rams. This could be a good thing for Buckeye Corey “Philly” Brown who will face less competition on the depth chart. In the Week 1 preseason game, Brown had three receptions for 27 yards.
  • Rookie OL Pat Elflein isn’t the automatic starting center for the Vikings — just yet, at least —, and despite competing for that role, has also been taking practice snaps at left guard as well.
  • Year 2 TE Nick Vannett got the start in the Week 1 preseason game for the Seahawks, but that’s about where his stat line stops. He didn’t see any targets, but has definitely grown as a blocker, and could see his role increase as he continues learning under the starter, Jimmy Graham.
  • Punter Cam Johnston is the only UDFA still with a team out of the 2017 draft class, and he was able to get off two punts for the Philadelphia Eagles last week. In an effort to make the final 53-man roster, or at least the practice squad, Johnston’s two punts went for 83 yards total with a long of 49 yards — one went out of bounds and the other was a downed punt.

Injury report

The regular season hasn’t even started yet, but there are already several Buckeyes already hitting up the medical tent.

  • Panthers’ wide receiver Curtis Samuel didn’t see any action in what would have been his NFL debut, due to a lingering hamstring issue that he’s been dealing with throughout training camp.
  • Another pair of rookies to miss their first NFL preseason game, was Oakland Raiders’ CB Gareon Conley, who was out with a shin injury, and New Orleans Saints’ CB Marshon Lattimore, who was out with a minor knee injury.
  • The Dolphins were dealt a big blow when LB Raekwon McMillan tore his ACL in the first NFL preseason game of his career, and is expected to miss his entire rookie season.
  • Likewise, following surgery, the Detroit Lions’ OT Taylor Decker will miss his second year in the league blocking for Matthew Stafford.
  • After being checked out in the locker room during the Texans’ Week 1 preseason game, Braxton Miller’s undisclosed injury isn’t expected to be serious, but he did miss the team’s first practice back, with reports of “lingering soreness”.
  • The Steelers were without LB Ryan Shazier who has been dealing with a lower body injury for over a week. The team, the league, and pretty much every football fan knows what a beast Shazier can be, so missing some preseason game time isn’t too big a deal.