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2 Buckeyes score their first career NFL touchdown in Week 5

Plus, Denzel Ward continues to impress in Cleveland.

New York Giants v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It was a busy week for former Ohio State players in the NFL, with several Buckeyes nabbing their first career scores, and others lighting up the stat line with an incredible number of tackles— we see you and your 12 tackles Malik Hooker.

There are a lot of first round picks proving they were worth the risk, and second and third-year players finally starting to have the production expected. Plus, you’ve got journeyman Terrelle Pryor who somehow still manages big games despite only seeing one or two targets.

Here’s a look at how former Buckeyes fared in Week 5:

Buckeyes nab first NFL TDs

Some young guys have been proving their worth early this season, including rookie DE Sam Hubbard and second-year wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

Sam Hubbard has already been an incredible steal for the Bengals, who grabbed the Buckeye defender in the third round of the NFL Draft. Through five games, he’s seen an increase in snaps and totaled 11 tackles, including two stuffs for eight yards, and a sack, and on Sunday, added his first fumble recovery and touchdown to the list.

Curtis Samuel made the move to full-time receiver for the Panthers in 2017, but only saw a smattering of action in his rookie season, limited by both injuries and a stalling offense. He missed the first quarter of the 2018 regular season after undergoing a minor heart procedure, but was back in full effect on Sunday.

With the Panthers pulling off a narrow win over the Giants on Sunday— thanks to a 63-yard field goal made in the final seconds— Samuel finally found his way to the end zone, and in impressive fashion. In his first game back, he recorded just two catches for 37 yards, including a crazy 25-yard run for his first career score.

Buckeye LBs live up to potential in Miami

The Dolphins have not one, but two linebackers out of Ohio State, and they’ve both instantly added value to the team’s defense.

Rookie Jerome Baker is competing for snaps and earning all of them, making 34 total tackles through five games. On Sunday against the Bengals, Baker made seven stops, and claimed his first career sack, and then had another for two sacks on the day.

Similarly, Raekwon McMillan is back in the fold for his second year in the NFL, after missing his entire rookie season with an achilles injury. He’s having to battle with Baker for some of those defensive snaps, but is holding his own with 25 tackles through five games, and six against the Bengals in Week 5.

Big Apple is back in New York

Eli Apple has had a bit of a contentious career through two seasons, but with a new head coach and front office for the New York Giants— not to mention their willingness to give him a clean slate— the Buckeye cornerback is finally living up to his potential.

He was a great DB for OSU, who maybe had a penchant for being too handsy at times, but was super instinctive and great in coverage. That didn’t translate to the NFL right away, and some off-field stuff with his family and with his teammates derailed his concentration a bit.

Back to focusing on football in 2018, Apple missed a few games due to injury, but there is no question that he is back and looking like a first-round pick should. In his first game against the Panthers, Apple made five total tackles and had a forced fumble in the team’s two-point loss.

There’s still work to be done, but it’s great to see him re-energized and playing like he’s enjoying himself once again.

Other notables

  • Lots of Buckeyes will see the field in primetime on “Monday Night Football” when the New Orleans Buckeyes Saints (Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore, and Michael Thomas) take on Washington.
  • Tight end Nick Vannett had the biggest game of his career on Sunday for the Seahawks, with 43 yards on three catches. He hasn’t developed into the similar type of receiving threat that Jimmy Graham was for the team, but he’s a solid blocker and seems to keep seeing a few targets each matchup.
  • Some Buckeye other defenders had solid games in Week 5, Malcolm Jenkins had six total tackles, Darron Lee had five total tackles, and Cameron Heyward had three tackles and 1.5 sacks.
  • Rookie defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes was active for the first time on Sunday, when the Minnesota Vikings took on the Philadelphia Eagles, and made his first career tackle.

Plays of the Week

Denzel Ward

A large reason that the Browns defense looks so much better this season is rookie Buckeye Denzel Ward. The No. 4 overall pick from this year’s draft was an instant contributor, and continued to make an impact in Sunday’s overtime win against the Ravens.

Not only did he come up with a big interception keeping Baltimore out of the end zone, but he also blocked field goal to keep them from tying things up in the final seconds leading up to halftime.

There wasn’t just one big play from Ward this week, there were several:

Terrelle Pryor Sr.

The quarterback-turned-receiver is still a bit of a head-scratcher, and now with the New York Jets, is even more curious. The Buckeye had just one catch on Sunday, but it was a 20-yard grab for a touchdown— making his season total through five games, nine receptions for 178 yards and a score.

Injuries and Roster Moves

  • Both Billy Price (Bengals) and Joey Bosa (Chargers) are still sidelined and wearing boots with lingering foot injuries, and missed each of their Week 5 matchup.
  • John Simon made it just one game back before getting injured, the Patriots’ linebacker went out with a shoulder injury on Thursday night.
  • After spending the first few years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but seeing more time on IR than in-game, defensive tackle Michael Bennett was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Just before Sunday’s matchup, the San Francisco 49ers cut safety Tyvis Powell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended back up on the team’s practice squad at some point.