We’re almost at the halfway point of the 2018 NFL season, and players out of Ohio State continue to rank among the best in the league.
In Week 6, Ryan Shazier and the Steelers made an emotional return to Cincinnati, the New York Jets are relying on two big-name Buckeyes, and the teams from Ohio fall back to Earth a bit. Plus, Malik Hooker makes his first interception of the season, and Ezekiel Elliott is back to running for 100-plus yards.
Here’s everything you need to know about Buckeyes in the NFL in Week 6:
Speaking of the Steelers playing in Cincinnati, it was the first time that the team had returned to southern Ohio since Ryan Shazier’s life changed. The last edition of this AFC East rivalry resulted in a spine injury for Shazier, leaving him on the sideline for all of 2018, and maybe for good.
The linebacker embraced the return to Cincinnati, and visited the local hospital that took such good care of him early on, after the injury.
It’s been a long journey, but this is still a ways to go. But it all started here in Cincinnati. Today was an amazing day I was so thankful to be able to tell everyone thank you. #Shalieve pic.twitter.com/wItKXNp5ya— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) October 14, 2018
He then returned to Paul Brown Stadium, where he walked — which is still a pretty huge deal — through the end zone to meet the Steelers on the sideline.
Ryan Shazier walks back onto the field he left last Dec. 4. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/5XOdNkv8nn— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 14, 2018
Shazier might not be on the field for the Steelers this season, but he’s making an impact on the sideline, amping up the defense and focusing on some of the little things that his teammates can do to improve their game.
Steelers players have lauded Shazier’s attention to detail and his ability to see the game like few others can. The linebacker is doing everything that he can to help his team, in any way that he can, including acting as an assistant coach.
Jets relying on the Buckeyes
So, surprisingly, the New York Jets aren’t quite the dumpster fire that they’ve been in years past, and a lot of that is thanks to a couple of Buckeyes on the roster. The Jets picked up another win in Week 6 against the Colts, 42-34, leaving the team 3-3 heading into the meaty part of their season.
Linebacker Darron Lee is now in his third year in the NFL, and is having a career season so far in 2018. On Sunday, he continued to prove that his production so far wasn’t a fluke, nabbing his third interception of the season — in addition to his eight total tackles and one pass defended.
Make it 3 INTs for @DLeeMG8 this season. #INDvsNYJ pic.twitter.com/jYWxfDvO38— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 14, 2018
Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. also battled through a lingering groin injury, and made his second touchdown catch of the season on Sunday.
2nd TD for @TerrellePryor in as many games. #INDvsNYJ pic.twitter.com/B0pZ1uLLUQ— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 14, 2018
Pryor finished the day with five receptions for 57 yards, and through six games is averaging an incredible 16.8 yards per catch — 11 of his 14 catches this year were for a first down. He’s also just six yards shy of besting his numbers from his 2017 season in Washington.
Ohio teams fall back to Earth
Things have looked surprisingly good for the two NFL teams from the great state of Ohio in the early goings of the NFL season, but Week 6 was not kind to either of them.
The Browns pretty much had no chance at launching a comeback against the Chargers, and ended up falling 38-14 at home on Sunday. Rookie CB Denzel Ward had three total tackles on the day, and running back Carlos Hyde had only 34 yards despite carrying the ball 14 times.
The Bengals also lost, but in a much-more heartbreaking fashion. Up by one point with 33 seconds on the clock, the Steelers had an incredible drive that left Cincinnati down by seven with just 10 seconds to play. The home team Bengals couldn’t score that quickly, and lost 28-21. The team was without both Billy Price and Adolphus Washington (see below) and Sam Hubbard had a much quieter day with just two total tackles.
Plays of the Week
After missing most of his rookie season to injury, Malik Hooker is back to being the ball hawk that he was during his playing days at Ohio State. The first-round safety made his first interception of the season on Sunday, and is giving the Colts defense at least a small glimmer of hope for the future.
BALL HAWK.@MalikHooker24 intercepts Sam Darnold! #Colts #INDvsNYJ— NFL (@NFL) October 14, 2018
: CBS pic.twitter.com/PXgkev09xc
The Cowboys put up 40 points against the Jaguars on Sunday, and Ezekiel Elliott is back to his 100-plus yard games. The former Buckeye finished Week 6 with 24 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown — his third score of the season. With Sunday’s trip to the end zone, Elliott becomes the 12th player in Dallas franchise history to reach 25 rushing touchdowns.
.@EzekielElliott celebrating this TD with @thenotoriousmma strut! #JAXvsDAL pic.twitter.com/6RFVmCodV6— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 14, 2018
- There aren’t many Buckeyes competing on “Monday Night Football,” but the Green Bay Packers (Corey Linsley) take on the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.
- The Raiders have talked about how second-year player Gareon Conley’s development is essentially that of a rookie since he missed so much of his actual rookie year due to injury. With him still needing time to get acclimated, and with veteran Daryl Worley back from suspension, Conley is no longer considered part of Oakland’s starting lineup.
- Tight end Jeff Heuerman has definitely been seeing more looks in the Broncos offense, but with Case Keenum at QB, that’s not really saying a whole lot. Heuerman had three catches for 27 yards in the team’s loss in Week 6, and was targeted in the end zone but on a pass that was way overthrown.
- A week after scoring his first NFL touchdown, wide receiver Curtis Samuel had no receptions in Carolina’s 23-17 disappointing loss to Washington.
- On “Thursday Night Football” this week, the New York Giants (Eli Apple) fell to the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (Malcolm Jenkins, Cameron Johnston), 34-13. Apple, however, had eight total tackles on the day, in addition to three pass breakups. Jenkins had himself a day as well with six total tackles, while Johnston continues to lead the league averaging 50.2 yards per punt.
Injuries and Inactives
- Joey Bosa is still out for the Chargers with a foot injury, and did not travel with the team to Cleveland in Week 6.
- Similarly, Bengals’ center Billy Price has missed the past several games with a foot injury, and was out again on Sunday. Recent Cincinnati-signee Adolphus Washington was also inactive in Week 6, but that was a coach’s decision as he gets accustom to the playbook.
- Seahawks tight end Nick Vannett suffered a back injury in Week 5, and after missing practice due to the injury, was also inactive for Sunday’s game.
- Recently-signed linebacker John Simon missed the Patriots’ game on “Sunday Night Football” due to a lingering shoulder injury.
- Jacksonville OG Andrew Norwell was seen wearing a boot around the Jags facility earlier in the week, but was able suit up in Week 6.
- Two teams are on bye this week, the Detroit Lions (Taylor Decker) and New Orleans
Buckeye sSaints (Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas). Lattimore suffered a concussion during the Saints’ Week 5 contest, so his status for Week 7 is still questionable.