The NFL preseason got underway on Thursday, and while not every Ohio State alumnus currently on a roster participated in the first night of action, there were plenty of Buckeyes making impressive plays,including several making their NFL debuts.
Before we get into a pretty comprehensive breakdown of who did what, and which rookies made a strong impression, there was a nice moment for one of OSU’s favorite linebackers during the Eagles-Steelers pre-game warmups.
Ryan Shazier is already out for the entire 2018 season as he continues to rehab his injured back, but he was seen in the huddle, swaying with his teammates as they got riled up for the first action since last season.
It’s amazing how far Shazier has come since that scary day in December, but whether or not he’s actually out on the field, he’s always got his teammates back on the sideline.
Love seeing 5️⃣0️⃣ back in that huddle.#WeRide #SHALIEVE pic.twitter.com/LaTz4oPRgj— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 9, 2018
Some first-year Buckeyes don’t play until Friday or Saturday night, but there were still a lot of NFL debuts from players out of Ohio State on Thursday.
Sure, not every performance was super noteworthy, but J.T. Barrett got some snaps for the Saints late in their game, and other undrafted free agents, like LB Chris Worley (Bengals), DB Damon Webb (Titans), and DT Tracy Sprinkle (Panthers) saw some playing time too. Defensive end Sam Hubbard also saw the field with the Bengals, but had a few missed tackles and seemed to excel against the run game more than the pass rush.
Buckeye rookie Tyquan Lewis — along with second-year player Malik Hooker who is recently off of the PUP list — did not dress for the Colts first preseason game of the year.
Offensive tackle Jamarco Jones saw some playing time for the Seahawks, but was carted off the field late in the contest after getting rolled on. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said after the game that Jones’ x-rays came back negative but he had a legit ankle sprain.
Some rookies who stood out with their new teams included Jerome Baker with the Dolphins and Billy Price with the Bengals.
On LB Jerome Baker in his debut with the Miami Dolphins — Kevin Nogle, The Phinsider
“Linebacker Jerome Baker, however, would come up big a couple of times, both with a play in the backfield and on a third-and-ten play to sop the Buccaneers a yard short of the conversion, leading to a field goal. Baker has been quiet so far this summer, but his instincts appear to be putting him in the right place to make a play in the second quarter of the game.”
On center Billy Price’s first taste of NFL action — Josh Kirkendall, Cincy Jungle
“The offensive line looked strong, despite early struggles on the right side. Center Billy Price didn’t fumble an exchange, and there was plenty of movement when they engaged against their opponents.”
Also, Denzel Ward may have killed a guy during his NFL debut, and Browns fans have got to be excited about their No. 4 overall draft pick so early on in his career. (I mean, he straight-up leveled the guy.)
Denzel Ward! pic.twitter.com/4WAGsYmjgb— WeAreDBnation (@WeAreDBNation1) August 9, 2018
- Curtis Samuel was back in the Panthers lineup after a string of injuries since the beginning of his rookie year; he hauled in four receptions for 43 yards on Thursday.
- Running back Rod Smith did a great job filling in for Zeke last season, and he’s still clamoring for one of Dallas’ roster spots this fall. In the first preseason game he had 32 yards on eight carries, and a catch for six yards.
- Quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller saw some considerable time for the Texans during their first preseason game, and finished the day with three receptions for 28 yards.
- Safety Tyvis Powell has gotten some first-team reps with teammate Richard Sherman tending to an injury during parts of training camp, and in Week 1 he made two tackles and had one pass breakup.
- On John Simon’s transition to DE for the Colts — Chris Blystone, Stampede Blue
“Many have viewed John Simon as an odd fit as a defensive end. Unfortunately no one seems to have told John Simon. After consistently looking like a guy who can be a difference maker, Simon was instrumental in the pass rush during the time with the first team defense on the field. He managed 1.5 sacks and made a noticeable impact. The Colts desperately need him to both continue that trend and to grow.”
The tight end for the Seahawks has been biding his time to be a featured player on offense, and it seems like his consistency as a blocker has earned him a few more looks downfield. In Seattle’s first preseason game, Vannett nabbed 20 yards on two catches, including this diving grab for a touchdown.
TOUCHDOWN #Seahawks! Russell Wilson uses his mobility to get outside the pocket and finds Nick Vannett for the score. Great ball placement!pic.twitter.com/U02JA8zuo3— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) August 10, 2018
The punter for the Philadelphia Eagles really let one fly late in Thursday’s game, getting about 70 yards through the air, and another 11 yards on the ground, for an 81-yard punt!
That’s just insane.
A penalty took this 81-YARD PUNT from Cameron Johnston off the box score, but this highlight still exists.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/sbzSwxPMQH— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 10, 2018
Injuries and Inactives
- WR Noah Brown did not travel West with the Cowboys this week, and was inactive as he deals with a hamstring issue.
- Brown’s Buckeye and Cowboy teammate RB Ezekiel Elliott was active, but didn’t see the field for the Cowboys’ first preseason game. Same with Cameron Heyward for the Steelers, who didn’t see any snaps on Thursday.
- Special teams maven Nate Ebner was recently removed from the Patriots’ PUP list following his 2017 season-ending knee injury, but wasn’t back in action for Week 1 of the preseason. Though he did give some epic side eye to three Patriot teammates.
Just three guys standing around complaining about how hard it is to be so goddamn good looking. pic.twitter.com/DBv7wnUDYM— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) August 10, 2018
There are still a handful of games to get you through the weekend, and plenty of Buckeyes to keep an eye on:
Friday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
New York Jets (Darron Lee, Terrelle Pryor Sr.) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Friday, Aug. 10 at 10:30 p.m.
Detroit Lions (Taylor Decker) vs. Oakland Raiders (Marcus Baugh, Gareon Conley)
Saturday, Aug. 11 at 9 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings (Pat Elflein, Jalyn Holmes) vs. Denver Broncos (Corey Brown, Jeff Heuerman, Bradley Roby)
Pat Elflein has been dealing with an injury most of the offseason, and Jeff Heuerman suffered a knee injury last week in camp. Both are expected to miss the preseason opener.
Saturday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers (Joey Bosa, Cardale Jones) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Bosa suffered a minor foot injury earlier in the week, so don’t be too surprised if he sits this one out — it’s not like the team really needs to see what he can do.